(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Love's cross-currents; a year's letters"

.*-.-' 



: 



;co 



: co 



MR. SWINBURNE'S WORKS. 

MR. SWINBURNE'S COLLECTED POEMS. In 6vols. crown 8vo. 36s. net, 
(Sold only in Sets.) 

MR. SWINBURNE'S TRAGEDIES. In 5 vols. crown 8vo, 30s. net. 
(Sold only in Sets.) 

SELECTIONS iFROM THE POETICAL WORKS OF ALGERNON 

CHARLES SWINBURNE. Fcp. 8vo. 6s. 
ATALANTA IN CALYDON. Crown 8vo. 6s. 
CHASTELARD : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

POEMS AND BALLADS. FIRST SERIES. Crown 8vo. or fcp. 8vo. 9s. 
POEMS AND BALLADS. T SECOND SERIES. Crown 8vo. 9s. 
POEMS AND BALLADS. THIRD SERIES. Crown 8vo. 7s. 
SONGS BEFORE SUNRISE. Crown 8vo. 10s. 6d. 
BOTHWELL : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 12s. 6d. 
SONGS OF TWO NATIONS. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

GEORGElCHAPMAN. (See Vol. II. of GEORGE CHAPMAN'S Works.) Crown 
8vo. 6s. 

ESSAYS AND STUDIES. Crown 8vo. 12s. 

ERECHTHEUS : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

A NOTE ON CHARLOTTE BRONTE. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

A STUDY OF SHAKESPEARE. Crown 8vo. 8s. 

SONGS OF THE SPRINGTIDES. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

STUDIES IN SONG. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

MARY STUART : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 8s. 

TRISTRAM OF LYONESSE, &c. Crown 8vo. 9s. 

A CENTURY OF ROUNDELS. Small 4to. 8s. 

A MIDSUMMER HOLIDAY, &c. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

MARINO FALIERO : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

A STUDY OF VICTOR HUGO. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

MISCELLANIES. Crown 8vo. 12s. 

LOCRINE : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

A STUDY OF BEN JONSON. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

THE SISTERS : a Tragedy. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

ASTROPHEL, &c. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

STUDIES IN PROSE AND POETRY. Crown 8vo. 9s. 

THE TALE OF BALEN. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

ROSAMUND, Queen of the Lombards. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

A CHANNEL PASSAGE, &c. Crown 8vo. 7s. 

LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS. Crown 8vo. 6s. net.' 

London: CHATTO & WINDUS, 111 St. Martin's Lane, W.C. 



LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



LOVE'S 
CROSS-CURRENTS 

A YEAR'S LETTERS 



BY 

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 



LONDON 

CHATTO & WINDUS 

1905 



ssto 

Li 



TO THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON 

As it has pleased you to disinter this buried bant- 
ling of your friend's literary youth, and to find it 
worth resurrection, I must inscribe it to you as the 
person responsible for its revival. Were it not that 
a friend's judgment may always seem liable to 
be coloured by the unconscious influence of friend- 
ship> I should be reassured as to its deserts by the 
approval of a master from whose verdict on a 
stranger's attempt in the creative art of fiction 
there could be no reasonable appeal and who> 
I feel bound to acknowledge with gratitude and 
satisfaction, has honoured it by the sponsorial 
suggestion of a new and a happier name. As it 
is, I can only hope that you may not be for once 
mistaken in your favourable opinion of a study 
thrown into the old epistolary form which even 
the giant genius of Balzac could not restore to the 



vi LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

favour it enjoyed in the days of Richardson and 
of Laclos. However that may be, I am content 
to know that you agree with me in thinking 
that in the world of literary creation there 
is a legitimate place for that apparent com- 
promise between a story and a play by which 
the alternate agents and patients of the tale are 
made to express what befalls them by word of 
mouth or of pen. I do not forget that the 
king of men to whose hand we owe the glorious 
history of Redgauntlet began it in epistolary form, 
and changed the fashion of his tale to direct and 
forthright narrative when the story became too 
strong for him, and would no longer be confined 
within the limits of conceivable correspondence : but 
his was in its ultimate upshot a historic and heroic 
story. And I have always regretted that we 
have but one specimen of the uncompleted series of 
letters out of which an earlier novel, the admirable 
Fortunes of Nigel, had grown up into immortality. 
The single sample which Lockhart saw fit to vouch- 
safe us is so great a masterpiece of dramatic humour 
and living imagination that the remainder of a 



DEDICATION vii 

fragment which might well suffice for the fame of 
any lesser man ought surely to have been long since 
made public. We could not dispense with the 
doubtless more generally amusing and interesting 
narrative which superseded it: but the true and 
thankful and understanding lover of Scott must 
and will readily allow or affirm that there are 
signs of even rarer and finer genius in the can- 
celled fragment of the rejected study. But these 
are perhaps too high and serious matters to be 
touched upon in a note of acknowledgment prefixed 
to so early an attempt in the great art of fiction or 
creation that it would never have revisited the light 
or rather the twilight of publicity under honest and 
legitimate auspices^ if it had not found in you a 
sponsor and a friend. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

PROLOGUE i 



I. LADY MIDHURST TO MRS. RADWORTH . 41 

II. MRS. RADWORTH TO FRANCIS CHEYNE . $1 

III. LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE . . 55 

IV. FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH . 65 
V. LADY CHEYNE TO FRANCIS CHEYNE . . 69 

VI. LADY MIDHURST TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 72 

VII. REGINALD HAREWOOD TO EDWARD AUDLEY 84 

VIII. FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH . 88 

IX. LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE . . Q2 

X. LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE . . IOO 

XI. REGINALD HAREWOOD TO MRS. RADWORTH IIO 

XII. MRS. RADWORTH TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 114 

XIII. FRANCIS CHEYNE TO LADY CHEYNE . .122 

XIV. LADY MIDHURST TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 126 
XV. LADY CHEYNE TO FRANCIS . . . .141 

XVI. MRS. RADWORTH TO LADY MIDHURST . 144 

XVII. LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE . . 148 

XVIII. LADY MIDHURST TO FRANCIS CHEYNE . 159 

XIX. FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH . 164 

XX. REGINALD HAREWOOD TO LADY CHEYNE . 1 68 



x LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

PAGE 

XXI. LADY MIDHURST TO MRS. RADWORTH . 179 

XXII. CAPTAIN HAREWOOD TO REGINALD . . 190 

XXIII. FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH . 197 

XXIV. LADY CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH . . 203 
XXV. REGINALD HAREWOOD TO EDWARD AUDLEY 207 

XXVI. LADY CHEYNE TO REGINALD HAREWOOD . 217 

XXVII. REGINALD HAREWOOD TO MRS. RADWORTH 222 

XXVIII. LADY MIDHURST TO MRS. RADWORTH . 228 

XXIX. FRANCIS CHEYNE TO LADY MIDHURST . 244 

XXX. LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE . . 248 



LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

M 

PROLOGUE 



IN the spring of 1849, old Lord Cheyne, the noted 
philanthropist, was, it will be remembered by all 
those interested in social reform, still alive and 
energetic. Indeed, he had some nine years of 
active life before him public baths, institutes, 
reading-rooms, schools, lecture-halls, all manner 
of improvements, were yet to bear witness to his 
ardour in the cause of humanity. The equable 
eye of philosophy has long since observed that the 
appetite of doing good, unlike those baser appe- 
tites which time effaces and enjoyment allays, 
gains in depth and vigour with advancing years 
a cheering truth, attested alike by the life and 
death of this excellent man. Reciprocal ameliora- 
tion, he was wont to say, was the aim of every 
acquaintance he made of every act of benevo- 
lence he allowed himself. Religion alone was 

B 
7 



2 LOVES CROSS-CURRENTS 

wanting to complete a character almost painfully 
perfect. The mutual moral friction of benefits 
bestowed and blessings received had, as it were, 
rubbed off the edge of those qualities which go 
to make up the religious sentiment. The spiritual 
cuticle of this truly good man was so hardened 
by the incessant titillations of charity, and of 
that complacency with which virtuous people 
look back on days well spent, that the contem- 
plative emotions of faith and piety had no effect 
on it ; no stimulants of doctrine or provocatives 
of devotion could excite his fancy or his faith 
at least, no clearer reason than this has yet been 
assigned in explanation of a fact so lamentable. 

His son Edmund, the late lord, was nineteen at 
the above date. Educated in the lap of philan- 
thropy, suckled at the breasts of all the virtues in 
turn, he was even then the worthy associate of his 
father in all schemes of improvement ; only, in 
the younger man, this inherited appetite for good- 
ness took a somewhat singular turn. Mr. Cheyne 
was a Socialist a Democrat of the most advanced 
kind. The father was quite happy in the con- 
struction of a model cottage ; the son was busied 
with plans for the equalization of society. The 
wrongs of women gave him many a sleepless 
night ; their cause excited in him an interest all 



PROLOGUE 3 

the more commendable when we consider that 
he never enjoyed their company in the least, and 
was, in fact, rather obnoxious to them than 
otherwise. The fact of this mutual repulsion 
had nothing to do with philanthropy. It was 
undeniable ; but, on the other hand, the moral- 
sublime of this young man's character was 
something incredible. Unlike his father, he was 
much worried by religious speculations certain 
phases of belief and disbelief he saw fit to embody 
in a series of sonnets, which were privately 
printed under the title of " Aspirations, by a 
Wayfarer." Very flabby sonnets they were, 
leaving in the mouth a taste of chaff and dust ; 
but the genuine stamp of a sincere and single 
mind was visible throughout ; which was no small 
comfort. 

The wife of Lord Cheyne, not unnaturally, 
had died in giving birth to such a meritorious 
portent. Malignant persons, incapable of appre- 
ciating the moral-sublime, said that she died 
of a plethora of conjugal virtue on the part of 
her husband. It is certain that less sublime 
samples of humanity did find the society of Lord 
Cheyne a grievous infliction. Reform, emancipa- 
tion, manure, the right of voting, the national 
burden, the adulteration of food, mechanics, 

B 2 



4 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

farming, sewerage, beetroot sugar, and the loftiest 
morality formed each in turn the staple of that ex- 
cellent man's discourse. If an exhausted visitor 
sought refuge in the son's society, Mr. Cheyne 
would hold forth by the hour on divorce, 
Church questions, pantheism, socialism (Christian 
or simple), the equilibrium of society, the duties 
of each class, the mission of man, the balance 
of ranks, education, development, the stages of 
faith, the meaning of the age, the relation of 
parties, the regeneration of the priesthood, the 
reformation of criminals, and the destiny of 
woman. Had fate or date allowed it, but stern 
chronology forbade, he would assuredly have 
figured as president, as member, or at least as 
correspondent of the Society for the Suppression 
of Anatomy, the Society for the Suppression of 
Sex, or the Ladies' Society for the Propagation 
of Contagious Disease (Unlimited). But these 
remarkable associations, with all their potential 
benefits to be conferred on purblind and perverse 
humanity, were as yet unprofitably . dormant 
in the sluggish womb of time. Nevertheless, the 
house decidedly might have been livelier than it 
was. 

Not that virtue wanted its reward. Lord 
Cheyne was in daily correspondence with some 



PROLOGUE 5 

dozen of societies for the propagation and sup- 
pression of Heaven knows what ; Professor 
Swallow, Dr. Chubbins, and Mr. Jonathan Bloman 
were among his friends. His son enjoyed the 
intimacy of M. Adrien Laboissiere, secretary of 
the committee of a minor democratic society ; 
and Mdlle Clemence de Massigny, the too- 
celebrated authoress of " Rosine et Rosette," 
"Confidences d'un Fauteuil," and other dangerous 
books, had, when in the full glow of her brief 
political career, written to the young son of pale 
and brumous Albion, " pays des libertes tronquees 
et des passions chatrees," an epistle of some 
twenty pages, in which she desired him, not once 
or twice, to kiss the paper where she had left a 
kiss for him "baiser chaste et fremissant," she 
averred, "etreinte altiere et douce de 1'esprit 
degage des pieges hideux de la matiere, temoin 
et sceau d'un amour ideal." "O poete!" she 
exclaimed elsewhere, "versons sur cette triste 
humanite la rosee rafraichissante de nos pleurs ; 
melons sur nos levres le soupir qui console au 
sourire qui rayonne. Chaque larme qui tombe 
peut rouler dans une plaie qu'elle soulagera. Les 
voluptes acres et severes de Pattendrissement 
valent bien le plaisir orageux des sens allumes." 
All this was astonishing but satisfactory to the 



6 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

recipient, and worth at least any two of his 
father's letters. Chubbins, Bloman, and the rest, 
practical men enough in their way, held in some 
contempt the infinite and the ideal, and were 
incapable of appreciating the absolute republic 
and the forces of the future. 

The arid virtue of the two chiefs was not 
common to the whole of the family. Mr. John 
Cheyne, younger brother to the noted philan- 
thropist, had lived at a great rate for years ; 
born in the regency period, he had grasped the 
receding skirt of its fashions ; he had made friends 
with his time, and sucked his orange to some 
purpose before he came to the rind. He married 
well, not before it was high time ; his finances, 
inherited from his mother, and originally not 
bad for a younger son, were shaken to the last 
screw that kept both ends together ; he was 
turned of forty, and his wife had a decent for- 
tune : she was a Miss Banks, rather handsome, 
sharp and quick in a good-natured way. She 
brought him a daughter in 1836, and a son in 
1840 ; then, feeling, no doubt, that she had done 
all that could be looked for from a model wife, 
completed her good work by dying in 1841. John 
Cheyne consoled himself with the reflection that 
she might have done worse ; his own niece, the 



PROLOGUE 7 

wife of a neighbour and friend, had eloped the 
year before, leaving a boy of two on her husband's 
hands. For the reasons of this we must go some 
way back and bring up a fresh set of characters, 
so as to get things clear at starting. 

A reference to the Peerage will give us, third 
on the Cheyne family list of a past generation, 
the name of " Helena, born 1800, married in 1819 
Sir Thomas Midhurst, Bart., by whom (deceased) 
she had one daughter, Amicia, born 1820, married 
in May, 1837, to Captain Philip Harewood, by 
whom she had issue Reginald-Edward, born 
April 7, 1838. This marriage was dissolved in 
1840 by Act of Parliament." And, we may add, 
Mrs. Harewood was married in the same year 
to Frederick Stanford, Esq., of Ashton Hildred, 
co. Bucks, to whom, in 1841, she presented a 
daughter, named after herself at the father's desire, 
who in 1859 married the late Lord Cheyne, just 
ten months after his father's lamented decease. 
Lady Midhurst, then already widowed, took up her 
daughter's cause energetically at the time of the 
divorce. Her first son-in-law was her favourite 
abhorrence ; with her second she had always 
been on the best of terms, residing, indeed, now 
for many years past with him and his wife, an 
honoured inmate for the term of her natural life, 



8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

and in a quiet though effectual way mistress of 
the whole household. It was appalling to hear 
her hold forth on the topic of the unhappy 
Captain Hare wood. She had known him inti- 
mately before he married her daughter ; at that 
time he thought fit to be delightful. After the 
marriage he unmasked at once, and became 
detestable. (Fan and foot, clapping down together, 
used to keep time to this keen- voiced declaration.) 
He had used his wife dreadfully ; at this day his 
treatment of the poor boy left in his hands was 
horrible, disgraceful for its stupidity and cruelty 
such a nice little fellow the child was, too, not 
the least like him, but the image of his mother 
and of her (Lady Midhurst), which of course was 
reason enough for that ruffian to ill-use his own 
son. There was one comfort, she had leave to 
write to the boy, and go now and then to see 
him ; and she took care to encourage him in 
his revolt against his father's style of training. 
In effect, as far as she could, Lady Midhurst 
tried to instil into her grandson her own views 
of his father's character; it was not difficult, 
seeing that father and son were utterly unlike 
and discordant. Old Lord Cheyne (who took 
decidedly the Hare wood side, and used some- 
times to have the boy over to Lidcombe, where 



PROLOGUE 9 

he revelled about the stables all day long) once 
remonstrated with his sister on this course of 
tactics. " My dear Cheyne," she replied, in quite 
a surprised voice, "you forget Captain Hare- 
wood's estate is entailed." He was an ex-captain ; 
his elder brother had died before he paid court 
to Miss Midhurst, and, when he married, the 
captain had land to settle on. As a younger 
brother, Lady Midhurst had liked him extremely ; 
as a man of marriageable income, she gave him 
her daughter, and fell at once to hating him. 

Capricious or not, she was a beautiful old 
woman to look at ; something like her brother 
John, who had been one of the handsomest men 
of his day ; her daughter and grand-daughter, 
both women of singular beauty and personal 
grace, inherited their looks and carriage from 
her. Clear-skinned, with pure regular features, 
and abundant bright white hair (it turned sud- 
denly some ten years after this date, in the 
sixtieth of her age), she was a study for old 
ladies. People liked to hear her talk ; she was 
not unwilling to gratify them. At one time of 
her life, she had been known to say, her tongue 
got her into some trouble, and her style of sarcasm 
involved her in various unpleasant little differ- 
ences and difficulties. All that was ever said 



io LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

'against her she managed somehow to outlive, 
and at fifty and upwards she was generally 
popular, except, indeed, with religious and 
philanthropic persons. These, with the natural 
instinct of race, smelt out at once an enemy in 
her. At sight of her acute attentive smile and 
reserved eyes a curate would become hot and 
incoherent, finally dumb ; a lecturer nervous, 
and voluble to the last. 



PROLOGUE ii 



II 

THE two children of Mr. John Cheyne enjoyed 
somewhat less of their aunt's acquaintance and 
care than did her grandchildren, or even her 
other nephew, Lord Cheyne's politico-philan- 
thropic son and successor. They were brought 
up in the quietest way possible ; Clara with a 
governess, who took her well in hand at an early 
age, and kept her apart from all influence but her 
own ; Frank under the lazy kind incurious eyes 
of his father, who coaxed him into a little shaky 
Latin at his spare hours, with a dim vision before 
him of Eton as soon as the boy should be fit. 
Lord Cheyne now and then exchanged visits with 
his brother, but not often ; and the children 
not unnaturally were quite incapable of appre- 
ciating the earnest single-minded philanthropy 
of the excellent man their father hardly relished 
it more than they did. But there was one man, 
or boy, whom John Cheyne held in deeper and 
sincerer abhorrence than he did his brother ; and 
this was his brother's son. Mr. Cheyne called 
between whiles at his uncle's, but was hardly 
received with a decent welcome. A clearer- 



12 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

sighted or more speculative man than John 
Cheyne would have scented a nascent inclination 
on his nephew's part towards his daughter. There 
was a sort of weakly weary gentleness of manner 
in the young philanthropist which the girl soon 
began to appreciate. Clara showed early enough 
a certain acuteness, and a relish of older company, 
which gave promise of some practical ability. 
At thirteen she had good ideas of management, 
and was a match for her father in most things. 
But she could not make him tolerate his nephew ; 
she could only turn his antipathy to profit by 
letting it throw forward into relief her own 
childish friendliness. There was the composition 
of a good intriguer in the girl from the first ; she 
had a desirable power of making all that could 
be made out of every chance of enjoyment. She 
was never one to let the present slip. Few 
children have such a keen sense as she how 
infinitely preferable is the smallest limping 
skinny half-moulted sparrow in the hand to the 
fattest ortolan in the bush. She was handsome 
too, darker than her father's family ; her brother 
had more of the Cheyne points about him. Frank 
was not a bad sort of boy, quiet, idle, somewhat 
excitable and changeable, with a good deal of 
floating affection in him, and a fund of respect 



PROLOGUE 13 

for his sister. Lady Midhurst, after one of her 
visits (exploring cruises in search of character, she 
called them), set him down in a decisive way as 
" flat, fade, wanting in spice and salt ; the sort of 
boy always to do decently well under any circum- 
stances, to get creditably through any work he 
might have to do; a fellow who would never 
tumble because he never jumped ; well enough 
disposed, no doubt, and not a milksop exactly 
certain to get on comfortably with most people, 
if there were not more of his father latent in the 
boy than she saw yet ; whereas, if he really had 
inherited anything of her brother John's head- 
strong irresolute nature, she was sure he had no 
strong qualities to counterbalance or modify it." 
Lady Midhurst rather piqued herself on this 
exhaustive elaborate style of summary ; and had, 
indeed, a good share of insight and analytic 
ability. Her character of Frank was mainly 
unfair ; but that quality of " always doing well 
enough under any circumstances " the boy really 
had in some degree : a rather valuable quality 
too. His aunt would have admitted the value 
of it at once ; but he was not her sort, she 
would have added ; she liked people who made 
their own scrapes for themselves before they fell 
into them, and then got out without being fished 



14 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

for. Frank would get into trouble sometimes, 
no doubt, but he would just slip in. Now it was 
always better to fall than to slip. You got less 
dirty, and were less time about it ; besides, an 
honest tumble was less likely to give you a bad 
sprain. This philosophic lady had a deep belief 
in the discipline of circumstances, and was dis- 
posed to be somewhat more than lenient towards 
any one passing (not unsoiled) through his time of 
probation and training. Personally, at this time, 
Frank was a fair, rather short boy, with light hair 
and grey eyes, usually peaceable and amiable in 
his behaviour ; his sister, tall, brown, thin, with 
clear features, and something of an abrupt deci- 
sive air about her. They had few friends, and 
saw little company ; Captain Harewood, who in 
former days had been rather an intimate of John 
Cheyne's, hardly ever now rode over to see his 
ex-friend ; not that he had any quarrel with the 
uncle of his divorced wife, but he now scarcely 
ever stirred out or sought any company beyond 
a few professional men of his own stamp and a 
clergyman or two, having lately taken up with a 
rather acrid and dolorous kind of religion. Lady 
Midhurst, one regrets to say, asserted that her 
enemy made a mere pretence of austerity in 
principle, and spent his time, under cover of seclu- 



PROLOGUE 15 

sion, in the voluptuous pastime of torturing his 
unlucky boy and all his miserable subordinates. 
" The man was always one of those horrid people 
who cannot live without giving pain ; she remem- 
bered he was famous for cruelty in his profession, 
and certainly he had always been the most natur- 
ally cruel and spiteful man she ever knew ; she had 
not an atom of doubt he really had some physical 
pleasure in the idea of others' sufferings ; that was 
the only way to explain the whole course of his 
life and conduct." Once launched on the philo- 
sophy of this subject, Lady Midhurst went on to 
quote instances of a like taste from history and 
tradition. As to the unfortunate Captain Hare- 
wood, nothing could be falser than such an impu- 
tation ; he was merely a grave, dry, shy, soured 
man, severe and sincere in his sorrowful distaste 
for company. Perhaps he did enjoy his own 
severity and moroseness, and had some occult 
pleasure in the sense that his son was being trained 
up sharply and warily ; but did not a boy with such 
blood in his veins need it ? 

Thus there was one source of company cut 
off, for the first years of their life, from the young 
Cheynes. The only companion they were usually 
sure of was not much to count on in the way of 
amusement, being a large, heavy, solitary boy of 



16 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

sixteen or more, a son of their neighbour on the 
left Mr. Radworth, of Blocksham. These Rad- 
worths were allies of old Lord Cheyne's, who had 
a great belief in the youth's genius and promise. 
He had developed, when quite young, a singular 
taste and aptitude for science, abstract and 
mechanical ; had carried on this study at school in 
the teeth of his tutors and in defiance of his school- 
fellows, keeping well aloof from all other learning 
and taking little or no rest or relaxation. His 
knowledge and working power were wonderful ; 
but he was a slow, unlovely, weighty, dumb, grim 
sort of fellow, and had already overtasked his 
brain and nerves, besides ruining his eyes. He 
never went anywhere but to the Cheynes', and 
there used to pay a dull puzzled homage to the girl, 
who set very light by him. There was always a 
strong flavour of the pedant and the philistin 
about Ernest Radworth, which his juniors were 
of course quick enough to appreciate. 

Mr. John Cheyne, though on very fair terms 
with his sister, did not visit the Stanfords ; he had 
never seen his niece since the time of the divorce ; 
Lady Midhurst was the only member of the house- 
hold at Ashton Hildred who ever came across to 
his place. The two children hardly knew the name 
of their small second cousin, Amicia Stanford ; 



PROLOGUE 17 

she was a year younger than Frank Cheyne, and 
the petted pupil of her grandmother. Mrs. 
Stanford, a gentle handsome woman, placid and 
rather shy in her manner, gave the child up 
wholly to the elder lady's care, and spent her days 
chiefly in a soft sleepy kind of housekeeping. 
A moral observer would have deplored the 
evident quiet happiness of her life. She never 
thought at all about her first husband, or the 
three years of her life which Lady Midhurst 
used to call her pre-Stanford period, except on 
those occasions when her mother broke out with 
some fierce reference to Captain Harewood, or 
some angry expression of fondness for his son. 
Then Mrs. Stanford would cry a little, in a dis- 
passionate graceful manner ; no doubt she felt at 
times some bitter tender desire and regret towards 
the first of her children, gave way between whiles 
to some unprofitable memory of him, small 
sorrows that had not heart enough in them to 
last long. At one time, perhaps, she had wept 
away all the tears she had in her ; one may doubt 
if there ever had been a great store of them for 
grief to draw upon. She was of a delicate impres- 
sible nature, but not fashioned so as to suffer 
sharply for long together. If there came any 
sorrow in her way she dropped down (so to speak) 

c 



i8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

at the feet of it, and bathed them in tears till it 
took pity on her tender beauty and passed by on 
the other side without doing her much harm. She 
was quite unheroic and rather unmaternal, but 
pleasantly and happily put together, kind, amiable, 
and very beautiful ; and as fond as she could ever 
be, not only of herself, but also of her husband, 
her mother, and her daughter. The husband was 
a good sort of man, always deep in love of his wife 
and admiration of her mother ; never conspicuous 
for any event in his life but that elopement ; and 
how matters even then had come to a crisis 
between two such lovers as they were, probably 
only one person on earth could have told; and 
this third person certainly was not the bereaved 
captain. The daughter was from her birth of 
that rare and singular beauty which never changes 
for the worse in growing older. She was one of 
the few girls who have no ugly time. In this 
spring of 1849 she was the most perfect child of 
eight that can be imagined. There was a strange 
grave beauty and faultless grace about her, more 
noticeable than the more usual points of childish 
prettiness : pureness of feature, ample brilliant 
hair, perfect little lips, serious and rounded in 
shape, and wonderful unripe beauty of chin and 
throat . Her grandmother, who was fond of French 



PROLOGUE 19 

phrases when excited or especially affectionate 
(a trick derived from recollections of her own 
French mother and early friends among French 
relatives she had a way of saying, " Hein?" 
and glancing up or sideways with an eye at once 
bird-like and feline), asserted that "Amy was 
faite a peindre faite a croquer faite a manger 
de baisers." The old life-worn philosophic lady 
seemed absolutely to riot and revel in her fond- 
ness for the child. There was always a certain 
amiably cynical side to her affections, which 
showed itself by and by in the girl's training ; but 
the delight and love aroused in her at the sight 
of her pupil were as true and tender as such emo- 
tions could be in such a woman. Lady Midhurst 
was really very much fonder of her two grand- 
children than of any one else alive . Redgie was j ust 
her sort of boy, she said, and Amy just her sort of 
girl. It would have been delicious to bring them 
up together (education, superintendence, training 
of character, guidance of habit, in young people, 
were passions with the excellent lady) ; and if the 
boy's father would just be good enough to come to 

some timely end . She had been godmother 

to both children, and both were as fond of her as 
possible. " Enfin!" she said, hopelessly. 



c 3 



20 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



III 

THEY were to have enough to do with each other 
in later life, these three scattered households of 
kinsfolk ; but the mixing process only began on 
a late spring day of 1849, at the country house 
which Mr. John Cheyne had inherited from his 
wife. This was a little old house, beautifully set 
in among orchards and meadows, with abundance 
of roses now all round it, under the heavy leaves 
of a spring that June was fast gaining upon. A 
wide soft river divided the marsh meadows in 
front of it, full of yellow flag-flowers and moist fen- 
blossom. Behind, there slanted upwards a small 
broken range of hills, the bare green windy lawns 
of them dry and fresh under foot, thick all the way 
with cowslips at the right time. It was a splendid 
place for children ; better perhaps than Ashton 
Hildred with its huge old brick-walled gardens and 
wonderful fruit-trees blackened and dotted with 
lumps or patches of fabulous overgrown moss, and 
wild pleasure-grounds stifled with beautiful rank 
grass ; better decidedly than Lord Cheyne's big 
brilliant Lidcombe, in spite of royal shooting- 
grounds and the admirable slopes of high bright 



PROLOGUE 21 

hill-country behind it, green sweet miles of park 
and embayed lake, beyond praise for riding 
and boating; better incomparably than Captain 
Harewood's place, muffled in woods, with a grim 
sad beauty of its own, but seemingly knee-deep 
in sere leaves all the year round, wet and weedy 
and dark and deep down, kept hold of somehow 
by autumn in the midst of spring ; only the upper 
half of it clear out of the clutch of winter even in 
the hottest height of August weather, with a bitter 
flavour of frost and rain in it all through summer. 
It was wonderful, Lady Midhurst said, how any 
child could live there without going mad or moping. 
She was thankful the boy went to school so young, 
though no doubt his father had picked out the very 
hardest sort of school that he decently could select. 
Anything was better than that horrid wet hole of 
a place, up to the nose and eyes in black damp 
woods, and with thick moist copses of alder and 
birch trees growing against the very windows ; and 
such a set of people inside of it ! She used to call 
there about three times a year, during the boy's 
holidays ; get him apart from his father and tutor, 
and give him presents and advice and pity and 
encouragement of all sorts, mixed with histories of 
his mother and half-sister, the whole spiced not 
sparingly with bitter allusions to his father, to 



22 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

which one may fear there was some response now 
and then on the boy's part. 

It was after one of these visits that Captain 
Harewood first brought his son over to his old 
friend's. Perhaps he thought at length that the 
boy might as well see some one about his own age 
in holiday-time. Reginald was growing visibly 
mutinous and hard to keep down by preachings 
and punishments ; had begun evidently to wince 
and kick under the domestic rod. His father and 
the clerical tutor who came over daily to look after 
the boy's holiday task could hardly keep him under 
by frequent flogging and much serious sorrowful 
lecturing. He was not a specially fast boy, only 
about as restless and insubordinate as most fellows 
at his age ; but this was far more than his father 
was prepared to stand. Let him see some one else 
outside home than Lady Midhurst ; it would do 
him no harm, and the boy was always vicious, and 
jibbed frightfully, for some days after his grand- 
mother's visits. So before the holidays were out 
the Captain trotted him over to make friends with 
Mr. Cheyne's son. The visit was a matter of keen 
and rather frightened interest to Frank. Clara, 
on hearing the boy was her junior, made light of it, 
and was out of the way when Captain Harewood 
came in with his son. The two boys eyed each 



PROLOGUE 23 

other curiously under close brows and with lips 
expressive of a grave doubt on either side. The 
visitor was a splendid-looking fellow, lithe and 
lightly built, but of a good compact make, with a 
sunburnt oval face, and hair like unspun yellow 
silk in colour, bur one mass of short rough curls ; 
eyebrows, eyes, and eyelashes all dark, showing 
quaintly enough against his golden hair and bright 
pale skin . His mouth, with a rather full red under 
lip for a child, had a look of such impudent and 
wilful beauty as to suggest at once the frequent 
call for birch in such a boy's education. His eyes 
too had a defiant laugh latent under the lazy light 
in them. Rather well got-up for the rest and deli- 
cately costumed, though with a distinct school 
stamp on him, but by no means after the muscle- 
manful type. 

This boy had a short whip in one hand, which 
was of great and visible comfort to him. To 
switch his leg in a reflective measured way was an 
action at once impressive in itself and likely to 
meet and obviate any conversational necessity 
that might turn up. No smaller boy could accost 
him lightly while in that attitude. 

At last, with a gracious gravity, seeing both 
elders in low-voiced talk, he vouchsafed five valu- 
able words : " I say, what's your name ? " Frank 



24 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

gave his name in with meekness, having a just 
sense of his relative insignificance. He was very 
honest and easy to dazzle. 

" Mine's Reginald Reginald Edward Hare- 
wood. It doesn't sound at all well " (this with a 
sententious suppressed flourish in his voice as of 
one who blandly deprecates a provoked contradic- 
tion) " no, not at all; because there's such a lot 
of ' D's ' in it. Yours is a much better name. 
How old are you ? " 

The abject Frank apologetically suggested 
" Nine." 

' You just look it," said Reginald Harewood, 
with an awful calm, indicative of a well-grounded 
contempt for that time of life, restrained for the 
present by an exquisite sense of social courtesy. 
" I'm eleven rising twelve eleven last month. 
Suppose we go out ? " 



PROLOGUE 25 



IV 

ONCE out in the garden, Reginald became more 
wonderful than ever. Any one not two years 
younger, and half a head shorter, must have 
doubled up with laughter before he had gone three 
steps. Our friend's patronage of the sunlight, his 
tolerance of the roses, his gentle thoughtful con- 
descension towards the face of things in general, 
were too sublime for words. 

When they came to the parapet of an old 
broad terrace, Reginald, still in a dignified way, 
got astride it, not without a curious grimace and 
some seeming difficulty in adjusting his small 
person ; tapped his teeth with his whip-handle, 
and gave Frank for a whole minute the full benefit 
of his eyes. Frank stood twisting a rose-branch, 
and looked meek. 

The result of Reginald's scrutiny was this 
question, delivered with much solemn effect. 

" I say. Were you ever swished ? " 

" Swished ? " said Frank, with a rapid heat in 
his cheeks. 

" Swished," said Reginald, in his decided 
voice. " Birched." 



26 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

" Do you mean flogged ? " 

Frank asked this very diffidently, and as if the 
query singed his lips. 

" Well, flogged, if you like that better," said 
Reginald, conscious of a neat point. " Flogged. 
But I mean a real, right-down swishing, you 
know. If a fellow says flogged, it may be a 
whip, don't you see, or a strap. That's caddish. 
But you can call it flogging, if you like ; only 
not at school, mind. It's all very well before 
me." 

Reverting from these verbal subtleties to the 
main point, Reginald put the grand query again 
in a modified shape, but in a tone of courteous 
resolution, not to be evaded by any boy. 

" Does your father often flog you ? " 

" I never was flogged in my life," said Frank, 
sensible of his deep degradation. 

Reginald, as a boy of the world, could stand 
a good deal without surprise ; experience of men 
and things had inured him to much that was 
curious and out of the usual way. But at the 
shock of this monstrous and incredible assertion 
he was thrown right off his balance. He got off 
the parapet, leaned his shoulders against it, and 
gazed upon the boy, to whom birch was a dim 
dubious myth, a jocose threat after dinner, with 



PROLOGUE 27 

eyebrows wonderfully high up, and distended 
eyelids. Then he said, 

" Good God ! " softly, and dividing the syl- 
lables with hushed breath. 

Goaded to insanity by the big boy's astonish- 
ment, agonized by his silence, Frank tenderly put 
a timid foot in it. 

" Were you ? " he asked, with much awe. 

Then, with straightened shoulders and raised 
chin, Reginald Harewood took up his parable. 
Some of his filial expressions must be forgiven to 
youthful excitement, and for the sake of accuracy ; 
boys, when voluble on a tender point, are awfully 
accurate in their choice of words. Reginald was 
very voluble by nature, and easy to excite on this 
painfully personal matter. 

" Ah, yes, I should think so. My good fellow, 
you ought to have seen me yesterday. I was 
swished twice in the morning. Can't you see in 
a man's eyes ? My father is the most awful 
Turk. He likes to swish me he does really. 
What you'll do when you get to school " (here a 
pause), " God knows." (This in a pensive and 
devout manner, touched with pity.) " You'll 
sing out by Jove ! won't you sing out the first 
time you catch it ! I used to I do sometimes 
now. For it hurts most awfully. But I can 



28 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS; 

stand a good lot of it. My father can always 
draw blood at the third or fourth cut. It's just 
like a swarm of mad bees stinging you at once. 
At school, if you kick, or if you wince even, or 
if you make the least bit of row, you get three 
cuts over. I always did when I was your age. 
The fellows used to call me all manner of chaffy 
names. Not the young ones, of course ; I should 
lick them. I say, I wish you were going to 
school. You'd be letting fellows get you into the 
most awful rows ah ! wouldn't you ? When I 
was your age I used to get swished twice a week 
regular. The masters spite me. I know one of 
them does, because he told one of the big fellows 
he did. At least he said I was a curse to my divi- 
sion, and I was ruining all the young ones. He 
did really, on my word. I was the fellow's fag 
that he said it to, and he called me up that night 
and licked me with a whip ; with a whip like this. 
He was a most awful bully. I don't think I'll tell 
you what he did once to a boy. You wouldn't 
sleep well to-night." 

" Oh, do ! " said Frank, quivering. The terrific 
interest of Reginald's confidences suspended his 
heart at his lips ; he beheld the Complete School- 
boy with a breathless reverence. As for pity, he 



PROLOGUE 29 

would as soon have ventured to pity a crowned 
head. 

" No," said the boy of the world, shaking con- 
siderate curls ; "I won't tell a little fellow, I 
think : it's a shame to go and put them in a funk. 
Some fellows are always trying it on, for a spree. 
I never do. No, my good fellow, you'd better 
not ask me. You had really." 

Reginald sucked his whip-handle with a relish, 
and eyed the universe in a conscious way. 

" Do, please," pleaded the younger. " I don't 
mind ; I've heard of that is, I've read of all 
kinds of awful things. I don't care about them 
the least bit." 

" Well, young one," said Reginald, " don't 
blame me then, that's all, if you have bad dreams. 
There was one fellow ran away from school when 
he heard of it on my word." And Reginald pro- 
ceeded to recite certain episodes apocryphal or 
canonical from the life of a lower boy, giving the 
details with a dreadful unction. No description 
can express the full fleshy sound of certain words 
in his mouth. He talked of " cuts " with quite a 
liquorish accent, and gave the technical word 
"swish" with a twang in which the hissing sound 
of a falling birch became sharply audible. The 
boy was immeasurably proud of his floggings, and 



30 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

relished the subject of flagellation as few men 
relish rare wine. As for shame, he had never for 
a second thought of it. A flogging was an affair 
of honour to him ; if he came off without tears, 
although with loss of blood, he regarded the 
master with chivalrous pity, as a brave enemy 
worsted. A real tormentor always revelled in the 
punishment of Reginald. Those who plied the 
birch with true loving delight in the use of it 
enjoyed whipping such a boy intensely. Orbilius 
would have feasted on his flesh dined off him. 

He looked Frank between the eyes as he 
finished and gave a great shrug. 

" I said you'd better not. You look blue and 
green, upon my honour you do. It's your fault, 
my good fellow. I'm very sorry. I know some 
fellows can't stand things. I knew you couldn't 
by the look of your eyes. I could have taken my 
oath of it. It isn't in you. It's not your fault ; 
I dare say you've no end of pluck, but you're 
nervous, don't you see ? I don't mean you funk 
exactly ; things disagree with you that's it." 

Here Reginald strangled a discourteous and 
compromising chuckle, and gave himself a cut 
with his whip that made his junior wink. 

" Ah, now, you see, that makes you wince. 
Now, look here, you just take hold of that whip 



PROLOGUE 31 

and give me a cut as hard as you possibly can. 
You just do that. I should like it. Do, there's 
a good fellow. I want to see if you could hurt 
me. Hit hard, mind. Now then," and he pre- 
sented a bending broadside to the shot. 

The trodden worm turned and stung. Driven 
mad by patronage, and all the more savage 
because of his deep admiration, Frank could not 
let the chance slip. He took sharp aim, set his 
teeth, and, swinging all his body round with the 
force of the blow as he dealt it, brought down the 
whip on the tightest part he could pick out, with 
a vicious vigour and stinging skill. 

He had a moment's sip of pure honey ; Regi- 
nald jumped a foot high, and yelled. 

But in another minute, before Frank had got 
his breath again, the boy turned round, rubbing 
hard with one hand, patted him, and delivered a 
" Well done ! " more stinging than a dozen cuts. 
Frank succumbed. 

" I say, just let me feel your muscle," said 
Reginald, passing scientific finger-tips up the arm 
of his companion. " Ah, very good muscle you've 
got ; you ought just to keep it up, you see, and 
you'll do splendidly. Bend your arm up ; so. 
I'll tell you what now ; you ought to make no 
end of a good hitter in time. But you wouldn't 



32 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

have hurt me a bit if I hadn't come to such grief 
yesterday. It was a jolly good rod, and quite 
fresh, with no end of buds on ; but you see you 
can't understand. Of course you can't. Then, 
you see, there was the ride over here. Riding 
doesn't usually make me lose leather ; but to-day, 
you know that is, you don't know. But you 
will." 

Reginald gave a pathetic nod, indicative of 
untold horrors. 

Frank had begun a meek excuse, which was cut 
short with imperious grace. 

" My dear fellow, don't bother yourself. I 
don't mind. You'll have to learn how to stand a 
cut before you leave home ; or the first time you're 
sent up, by Jove ! how you will squeak ! There 
was a fellow like you last half (Audley his name 
was), who had never been flogged till he came to 
school ; he was a nice sort of fellow enough, but 
when they told him to go down look here, he 
went in this way." And Reginald proceeded to 
enact the whole scene, making an inoffensive 
laurel-bush represent the flagellated novice, whose 
yells and contortions he rendered with fearful 
effect, plying his whip vigorously between whiles, 
till a rain of gashed leaves inundated the gravel, 
and giving at the same time vocal imitations of 



PROLOGUE 33 

the swish of the absent birch-twigs and the voice 
of the officiating master, as it fulminated words 
of objurgation and jocose contumely at every other 
cut. The vivid portraiture of the awful thing, and 
Redgie's subsequent description (too graphic and 
terrible in its naked realism to be reproduced) 
of the culprit's subsequent appearance and 
demeanour, and of his usage at the hands of 
indignant schoolboys, whose sense of propriety 
his base behaviour under punishment had out- 
raged in its tenderest part, all this made the 
youthful hearer's blood shiver deliciously, and 
his nerves tingle with a tremulous sympathy. He 
was grateful for this experience, and felt older 
than five minutes since. Reginald, too, remark- 
ing and relishing the impression made, felt kindly 
towards his junior, and promised, by implication, 
a continuance of his patronage. 

When they went in to luncheon, Redgie 
examined his friend's sister with the acute eyes 
of a boy of the world, and evidently approved 
of her; became, indeed, quite subdued, " lowly 
and serviceable," on finding that thirteen took 
a high tone with eleven, and was not prepared 
to permit advances on an equal footing. Frank, 
meantime, was scrutinizing under timid eyelids 
the awful Captain Hare wood, in whose hand the 

D 



34 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

eye of his fancy saw, instead of knife and fork, 
a lifted birch, the twigs worn and frayed, and 
spotted with filial blood. 

Redgie's father was thirty-eight that year, 
nine years older than his ex-wife, but looking 
much more. Mrs. Stanford had a fresh equable 
beauty which might have suited a woman ten 
years younger. The Captain was a handsome 
tall man, square in build, with a hard forehead ; 
the black eyes and eyebrows he had bequeathed 
to his son, but softened ; his own eyes were 
metallic, and the brows heavy, shaggy even. He 
had a hard mouth, with large locked lips ; a 
tight chin, a full smooth moustache, and a wide 
cheek, already furrowed and sad-looking. Some- 
thing of a despot's justice in the look of him, and 
something of bitter doubt and regret. His host, 
a man twelve years older, had worn much better 
than he had. 

When the boys were again by themselves, 
Redgie was pleased to express his sense of the 
merits of Frank's sister ; a tribute gratefully 
accepted. Clara was stunning for a girl, her 
brother added but was cautious ofover-praising 
her. 

" I've got a sister," Reginald stated ; " I believe 
she's a clipper, but I don't know. Oh, I say, 



PROLOGUE 35 

isn't my grandmother an aunt of yours or some- 
thing?" 

" Aunt Helena ? " said her nephew, who held 
her in a certain not unfriendly awe. 

" That's her," said Redgie, using a grammatical 
construction which, occurring in a Latin theme, 
would have brought down birch on his bare skin 
to a certainty. " Isn't she a brick ? I think 
she's the greatest I know that's about what 
she is." 

Frank admitted she was kind. 

" Kind ? I should think she was, too. She's 
a trump. But do you know she hates my go- 
vernor like mad. They hardly speak when she 
comes to our crib. Last time she came she gave 
me a fiver ; she did really." (Redgie at that age 
wanted usually some time to get up his slang in, 
but when it once began, he was great at it, con- 
sidering he had never got into a very slang set.) 
" Well, she says my sister is no end of a good one 
to look at by this time ; but I think yours must 
be the jolliest. I've known lots of girls " (the 
implied reticence of accent was, as Lady Mid- 
hurst would have said, impayable), " but I never 
saw such a stunner as she is. She makes a fellow 
feel quite shut up and spooney." 

This amorous confidence was brought up short 

D 2 



3 6 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

by the sudden advent of the two fathers. Meet- 
ing the eye of his, Redgie felt his fate, and tingled 
with the anticipated smart of it. All his last 
speech had too clearly dropped word by word 
into the paternal ear ; the wretched boy's face 
reddened with biting blushes to the very chin and 
eyelids and hair. When some twenty minutes 
later they parted at the hall-door, Redgie gave 
his friend a pitiful private wink and sadly comic 
shrug, so suggestive of his impending doom and 
the inevitable ceremony to be gone through 
when he reached home again that Frank, having 
seen him ride off quite silently a little behind 
his father, turned back into the house with his 
own flesh quivering, and a fearful vague vision 
before his eyes of Reginald some hours later 
twisting his bared limbs under the torture. 

He was eager to gather the household verdict 
on his friend ; but Reginald had scarcely made 
much of a success in other quarters. Clara 
thought him silly and young of his age (a verdict 
which would have finished him at once if he had 
known of it), but admitted he was a handsome 
boy, much prettier and pleasanter to have near 
one than Ernest Rad worth. Mr. Cheyne was 
sorry for the boy, but could hardly put up with 
such a sample of the new race. Redgie's conceit 



PROLOGUE 37 

and gracious impudence (though it was not 
really a case of bad tone, he allowed) had evidently 
been too much for him. The Captain, too, had 
expressed uneasiness about his boy, and a sense 
of vexatious outlooks ahead. 

After all there grew up no great intimacy 
out of this first visit ; a mere childish interlude, 
which seemingly had but just result enough to 
establish a certain tie at school afterwards 
between young Cheyne and his second cousin 
a tie considerably broken in upon by various 
squabbles, and strained often almost to snapping ; 
but, for all that, the visit had left its mark on 
both sides, and had its consequences. 



3 8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



WE have taken a flying view of these domestic 
affairs and the people involved in them, as they 
stood twelve years or so before the date of the 
ensuing correspondence. Something may now be 
understood of the characters and positions of the 
writers ; enough, no doubt, to make the letters 
comprehensible without interloping notes or com- 
mentaries. Much incident is not here to be 
looked for ; what story there is to tell ought at 
least to be given with clearness and coherence. 
There remains only by way of preface to sum up 
the changes that fell out between 1849 and 1861. 
At the latter date two deaths and two marri- 
ages had taken place ; old Lord Cheyne, much 
bewept by earnest and virtuous men of all classes, 
had died, laborious to the last in the great cause 
of human improvement, and his son, a good deal 
sobered by the lapse of time and friction of 
accident, had married, in May 1859, within a year 
of his accession as aforesaid, his cousin Mrs. 
Stanford's daughter; she was married on her 
eighteenth birthday, and there was no great ado 
made about it. John Cheyne had died a year 



PROLOGUE 39 

before his brother, having lived long enough to 
see his daughter well married, in 1857, to Mr. 
Ernest Radworth, whose fame as a man of 
science had gone on increasing ever since he 
came into his property in 1853, at the age of 
twenty-one. His researches in osteology were of 
especial value and interest ; he was in all ways a 
man of great provincial mark. 

There is not much else to say ; unless it may 
be worth adding that Francis Cheyne was at 
college by this time, with an eye to the bar in 
years to come ; his father's property had been 
much cut into by the share assigned to his sister, 
and there was just a fair competence left him 
to start upon. When not at Oxford, he lived 
usually at Lidcombe or at Blocksham, seldom by 
himself at home ; but had for some little time 
past shown a distinct preference of his cousin's 
house to his brother-in-law's, Lord Cheyne and he 
being always on the pleasant est terms. With 
this cousin, eighteen years older than himself, he 
got on now much better than with his old com- 
panion Reginald Harewood, whose Oxford career 
had just ended in the passing over his hapless 
head of the untimely plough, and whose friends, 
all but Lady Midhurst, had pretty well washed 
their hands of him. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 



LADY MIDHDRST TO MRS. RADWORTH 

Ashton Hildred, Jan. I2th, '61. 

MY DEAR NIECE : 

I WRITE to beg a favour of you, and you are 
decidedly the one woman alive I could ask it 
of. There is no question of me in the matter, 
I assure you ; I know how little you owe to a 
foolish old aunt, and would on no account tax 
your forbearance so far as to assume the very least 
air of dictation. You will hardly remember what 
good friends we used to be when you were a very 
small member of society indeed. If I ever tried 
then to coax you into making it up with your 
brother after some baby dispute, I recollect I 
always broke down in a lamentable way. The 
one chance at that time was to put the thing 
before you on rational grounds. I am trying to 
act on that experience now. 



42 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

This is rather a stupid grand sort of beginning, 
when all I really have to say is that I want to see 
the whole family on comfortable terms again 
especially to make you and Amicia friends. For 
you know it is hopeless to persuade an old woman 
who is not quite in her dotage that there has not 
been a certain coldness say coolness of late in 
the relations between you and those Lidcombe 
people. Since my poor brother's death, no doubt, 
the place has not had those attractions for Mr. 
Radworth which it had when there was always 
some scientific or philanthropic gathering there ; 
indeed, I suppose your house has supplanted 
Lidcombe as the rallying-point of provincial 
science for miles. By all I hear you are becoming 
quite eminent in that line, and it must be delicious 
for you personally to see how thoroughly your 
husband begins to be appreciated. I quite envy 
you the society you must see, and the pleasure 
you must take in seeing and sharing Mr. Rad- 
worth's enjoyment of it. (I trust his sight is 
improving steadily.) But for all this you should 
not quite cast off less fortunate people who have 
not the same tastes and pursuits. You and 
Cheyne were once so comfortable and intimate 
that I am certain he must frequently regret this 
change ; and Amicia, as you know, sets far more 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 43 

store by you than any other friend she could 
have about her. Do be prevailed upon to take 
pity on the poor child : her husband is a delight- 
ful one, and most eager to amuse and gratify, 
but I know she wants a companion. At her age, 
my dear, I could not have lived without one ; 
and at yours, if you were not such a philosopher, 
you ought to be as unable as I was. Men have 
their uses and their merits, I allow, but you cannot 
live on them. My friend, by the by, was not a 
good instance to cite, for she played me a fearful 
trick once ; Lady Wells her name was ; I had to 
give her up in the long run ; but she was charming 
at one time, wonderfully bright in her ways, at 
once quick and soft, as it were just my idea of 
Madame de Lery, in "Un Caprice." She was 
idolized by all sorts of people, authors particu- 
larly, for she used to hunt them down with a 
splendid skill, and make great play with them 
when caught ; but the things the woman used to 
say ! and then the people about her went off and 
set them all down in their books. The men 
actually took her stories as samples of what went 
on daily in a certain circle, and wrote them down, 
altering the names, as if they had been gospel. 
She told me some before they got into print ; 
there was nobody she would not mix up in them, 



44 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

and we had to break with her at last in a peace- 
able way. If you ever see an old novel called 
(I think) " Vingt-et-Un," or some such name 
I know there are cards in it you will find a picture 
there of your aunt, painted by the author (a Mr. 
Caddell) after a design by Lady Wells. I am the 
Lady Manhurst of that nice book. I cheat at 
cards ; I break the heart of a rising poet (that is, 
I never would let Sir Thomas invite Mr. Caddell) ; 
and I make two brothers fight a duel, and one 
is killed through my direct agency. I run away 
with a Lord Avery ; I am not certain that my 
husband dies a natural death ; I rather think, 
indeed, that I poison him in the last chapter but 
one. Finally, I become a Catholic ; and Lord 
Avery recognizes me in the conventual garb, the 
day after my noviciate is out, and immediately 
takes leave of his senses. I hope I died penitent ; 
but I really forget about that. You see what 
sort of things one could make people believe in 
those days ; I suppose there is no fear of a liaison 
dangereuse of that sort between you and poor 
little Amicia. She has not much of the Lady 
Wells type in her. 

I have a graver reason, as you probably 
imagine by this time, for wishing you to see a 
little of Amicia just now. It is rather difficult to 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 45 

write about, but I am sure you will see things 
better for yourself than I could make you if I 
were to scribble for ever in this cautious round- 
about way ; and I can trust so thoroughly in your 
good feeling and good sense and acuteness, that 
I know you will do what is right and useful and 
honourable. It is a great thing to know of any- 
body who has a head that can be relied upon. 
Good hearts and good feelings are easy to pick up, 
but a good clear sensible head is a godsend. 
Nothing else could ever get us through this little 
family business in reasonable quiet. 

I fear you must have heard some absurd 
running rumours about your brother's last stay 
at Lidcombe. People who always see what never 
exists are beginning to talk of his devotion to poor 
dear Amicia. Now I of course know, and you of 
course know, that there never could be anything 
serious on foot in such a quarter. The boy is 
hardly of age, and might be at school as far as that 
goes. Besides, Cheyne and Amicia are devoted 
to each other, as we all see. My only fear would 
be for poor Frank himself. If he did get any 
folly of a certain kind into his head it might 
cause infinite personal trouble, and give serious 
pain to more people than one. I have seen more 
than once how much real harm can come out of 



46 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

such things. I wonder if you ever heard your 
poor father speak of Mrs. Askew, Walter Askew's 
wife, who was a great beauty in our time ? Both 
my brothers used to rave about her ; she had 
features of that pure long type you get in pictures, 
and eyes that were certainly mieuxfendus than any 
I ever saw, dim deep grey, half lighted under the 
heaviest eyelids, with a sleepy sparkle in them : 
faulty in her carriage, very ; you had to look at 
her sitting to understand the effect she used to 
make. Her husband was very fond of her, and 
a cleverish sort of man, but too light and lazy to 
do all he should have done. Well, a Mr. Chet- 
wood, the son of a very old friend of mine (they 
used to live here), became infatuated about her. 
Spent days and days in pursuit of her ; made him- 
self a perfect jest. Everywhere she went there 
was this wretched man hanging on at her heels. 
They were not much to hang on to, by the by, 
for she had horrid feet. To this day I believe 
he never got anything by it ; if the woman ever 
cared for anybody in her life it was your father ; 
but Mr. Askew had to take notice of it at last ; 
the other got into a passion and insulted him 
(I am afraid they were both over-excited it was 
after one of my husband's huge dinners, and they 
came up in a most dreadful state of rage, and 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 47 

trying to behave well, with their faces actually 
trembling all over and the most fearful eyes), 
and there was a duel and the husband was killed, 
and Chetwood had to fly the country, people made 
it out such a bad case, and he was ruined died 
abroad within the year ; he had spent all his 
money before the last business. The woman 
afterwards married Dean Bainbridge, the famous 
Waterworth preacher, you know, who used to be 
such a friend of my friend Captain Harewood's 
for the last year or two of his life ; he had buried 
his third wife by that time ; Mrs. A. was the 
second. He was a detestable man, and had a 
voice exactly like a cat with a bad cold in the 
head. 

Now if anything of this sort were to happen to 
Francis (not that I am afraid of my two nephews 
cutting each other's throats but so much may 
happen short of that), it is just the kind of thing 
he might never get well over. He and Amy are 
about the same age, I think, or he may be a year 
older. In a case like this, of amicable intimacy 
between two persons, one married, there is neces- 
sarily a certain floating amount of ridicule im- 
plied, even where there is nothing more ; and the 
whole of this ridicule must fall in the long run 
upon the elder person of the two. I am not sure, 



48 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

of course, that there is any ground for fear just 
now, but to avoid the least chance of scandal, 
still more of ridicule, it is always worth while 
being at any pains. Nobody knows how well 
worth while it is till they are turned of thirty. 
Now you must see, supposing there is anything in 
this unfortunate report, that I cannot possibly be 
of the least use. Imagine me writing to that 
poor child to say she must not see so much of her 
cousin, or to Frank imploring him to spare the 
domestic peace of Lidcombe ! It would be too 
absurd for me to seem as if I saw or heard any- 
thing of the matter. A screeching, cackling 
grandmother, running round the yard with all her 
frowsy old feathers ruffled at the sight of such 
a miserable red rag as that, would be a thing to 
laugh at for a year ; and I have no intention of 
helping people to a laugh at my white hairs (they 
are quite white now). 

Or would you have me write to Cheyne ? La 
bonne farce ! as Redgie Hare wood says, since he 
has been in Paris. Conceive the delicate im- 
pressive way one would have to begin the letter 
in, so as not to arouse the dormant serpents in 
a husband's heart. Think of the soft suggestive 
lago style one would have to adopt, so as to inti- 
mate the awfullest possibilities without any hard 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 49 

flat assertion. Poor good Edmund too, of all 
people ! Imagine the bewildered way in which he 
would begin the part of Othello, without in the 
least knowing how without so much as an 
Ethiopian dye to help him out ! You must allow 
that in writing to you I have done all I could ; 
more, I do believe and hope, than there was any 
need of my doing ; but I look to your goodness 
and affection for your brother to excuse me. I 
want merely to suggest that you should keep a 
quiet friendly watch over Frank, so as to save 
him any distress or difficulty in the future. A 
sister rather older and wiser than himself ought 
really to be about the best help and mainstay a 
boy of his age can have. If I had had but five 
years or so more to back me, I might have saved 
your father some scrapes at that time of life. 

I have one more petition to my dear niece : be 
as patient with my garrulous exigeance as you can. 
If you see Reginald Harewood this winter, as I 
dare say you will he is pretty sure to be at Lid- 
combe before the month is out may I beg your 
Uenveillance towards the poor boy ? He is " sat 
upon " (as he says) just now to such an extent that 
it is a real charity in any one to show him a little 
kindness. I know his brilliant college career is 
not a prepossessing episode in his history ; but so 

E 



50 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS; 

many boys do so much worse and come off so 
much better ! That insufferable Captain Hare- 
wood behaves as if every one else's son had made 
the most successful studies, and at the end of 
three years saved up a small but decent income 
out of his annual allowance. If my father had 
only had to pay two hundred for the college debts 
of yours ! I cannot conceive what parents will 
be in the next generation : I am sure we were 
good-natured enough in ours, and you see what 
our successors are. 

If Mr. Rad worth has spare time enough, in the 
intervals of his invaluable labours, to be reminded 
of an old woman's unprofitable existence, will you 
remember me to him in the kindest way ? and, if 
you have toiled through my letter, accept the love 
and apologies of your affectionate aunt. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 51 



II 

MRS. RAD WORTH TO FRANCIS CHEYNE 

Blocksham, Jan. i6th. 

MY DEAR FRANK : 

IF you had taken my advice you would have 
arranged either to stay up at Oxford during the 
vacation, or at least to be back by the beginning 
of next term. Of course, we should like of all 
things to have you here as long as you chose to 
stay, and it would be nicer for you, I should 
think, than going back to fog and splashed snow 
in London ; but our half engagement to Lidcombe 
upsets everything. Ernest is perfectly restless 
just now ; between his dislike of moving and his 
wish to see the old Lidcombe museum again, he 
does nothing but papillonner about the house in 
a beetle-headed way, instead of sticking to his 
cobwebs, as a domestic spider should. Are you 
also bent upon Lidcombe ? For, if you go, we go. 
Make up your mind to that. If you don't, I can 
easily persuade Ernest that his museum has 

E 2 



52 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

fallen to dust and tatters under the existing 
dynasty, which, indeed, is not so unlikely to be 
true. Amicia writes very engagingly to me, just 
the sort of letter one would have expected, limp, 
amiable, rather a smirking style ; flaccid con- 
descension ; evidently feels herself agreeable and 
gracious. I am rather curious to see how things 
get on there. You seem to have impressed 
people somehow with an idea that during your 
last visit the household harmony suffered some 
blow or other which it has not got over yet. Is 
there any truth in the notion ? But of course, 
if there were, I should have known of it before 
now, if I were ever to know it at all. 

I have had a preposterous letter from Aunt 
Midhurst ; the woman is really getting past her 
work : her satire is vicious, stupid, pointless to 
a degree. Somebody has been operating on her 
fangs, I suppose, and extracting the venom. It 
is curious to remember what one always heard 
about her wit and insight and power of reading 
character ; she has fallen into a sort of hashed 
style, between a French portiere and a Dickens 
nurse. It makes one quite sorry to read the sort 
of stuff she has come to writing, and think that 
she was once great as a talker and letter-writer 
like looking at her grey fierce old face (museau 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 53 

de louve, as she called it once to me) and remem- 
bering that she was thought a beauty. Still you 
know some people to this day talk about the 
softness and beauty of her face and looks, and 
I suppose she is different to them. To me she 
always looked like a cat, or some bad sort of bird, 
with those greyish-green eyes and their purple 
pupils. 

I need hardly tell you that since you were here 
last the place has been most dismal. Ernest has 
taken to insects now ; il me manquait cela. He 
has a room full of the most dreadful specimens. 
In the evenings he reads me extracts from his MS. 
treatise on the subject, which is to be published 
in the "County Philosophical and Scientific 
Transactions." Cest rejouissant f After all, I 
think you are right not to come here more than 
you can help. The charity your coming would be 
to me you must know ; but no doubt it would 
have to be too dearly paid for. 

Lady Midhurst tells me that your ex-ally in 
old days, and my ex-enemy, Reginald Harewood, 
is to be at Lidcombe by the end of this month. 
Have you seen him since the disgraceful finale of 
his Oxford studies ? I remember having met 
him a month or two since when I called on her 
in London, and he did not seem to me much 



54 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

improved. One is rather sorry for him, but it 
is really too much to be expected to put up with 
that kind of young man because of his disadvan- 
tages. I hope you do not mean to renew that 
absurd sort of intimacy which he had drawn you 
into at one time. 

I am rather anxious to see Lidcombe in its 
present state, so I think we shall have to go ; but 
seriously, if people are foolish enough to talk 
about your relations there, I would not go, in 
your place. I am not going to write you homilies 
after the fashion of Lady M., or appeal to your 
good feeling on the absurd subject ; I never did 
go in for advice. Do as you like, but I don't 
think you ought to go. 

Ernest no doubt would send you all sorts of 
messages, but I am not going to break in upon 
the room sacred to beetles and bones ; so you 
must be content with my love and good wishes for 
the year. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 55 



III 

LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE 

Ashton Hildred, Jan. 24th. 

MY DEAR CHILD : 

You are nervous about your husband's part in 
the business ; cela se wit ; but I hardly see why 
you are to come crying to an old woman like me 
about the matter. Tears on paper are merely 
blots, please remember ; you cannot write them 
out gracefully. Try to compress your style a 
little ; be as sententious as you can terse com- 
plaints are really effective. I never cried over a 
letter but once, and then it was over one of my 
husband's ! Poor good Sir Thomas was natur- 
ally given to the curt hard style, and yet one 
could see he was almost out of his mind with dis- 
tress. I suppose you know we lived apart in a 
quiet way for the last ten years of his life. It 
was odd he should take it to heart in the way he 
did ; for I know he was quite seriously in love with 
a most horrid little French actress that had been 



56 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

(I believe she was Irish myself, but she called 
herself Mile des Greves such a name ! I'm 
almost certain her real one was Ellen Greaves a 
dreadful wretch of a woman, with a complexion 
like bad fruit, absolutely a greenish brown when 
you saw her in some lights) ; and the poor man 
used to whimper about Helene to his friends in 
a perfectly abject way. Captain H. told me so ; 
he was of my friends at that epoch ; he was court- 
ing your mother, and in consequence hers also. 
Indeed, I believe he was in love with me at the 
time, though I am ten years older ; however, I 
imagine it looks the other way now. When I saw 
him last he was greyer than Ernest Rad worth. 
That wife of his (E. R.'s, I mean) is enough to 
turn any man's hair grey ; I assure you, my dear 
child, she makes my three hairs stand on end. 
Her style is something too awful, like the most 
detestable sort of young man. She will be the 
ruin of poor dear Redgie if we don't pick him up 
somehow and keep him out of her way. He was 
quite the nicest boy I ever knew, and used to 
make me laugh by the hour ; there was a splendid 
natural silliness in him, and quantities of verve 
and fun what Mrs. Radworth, I suppose, calls 
pluck or go. Still, when one thinks she is break- 
ing Ernest's heart and bringing Captain Hare- 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 57 

wood's first grey hairs to the grave with vexation, 
I declare I could forgive her a good deal if she 
were only a lady. But she isn't in the least, and 
I am ashamed to remember she is my niece ; her 
manners are exactly what Mile Greaves' s must 
have been, allowing for the difference of times. I 
am quite certain she will be the death of poor 
Redgie. He was always the most unfortunate boy 
on this earth ; I dare say you remember how he 
was brought up always worried and punished 
and sermonized, ever since he was a perfect 
baby ; enough to drive any boy mad, and get him 
into an infinity of the most awful scrapes when 
he grew up : but I did think he might have kept 
out of this one. Clara Rad worth must be at least 
six years older than he is. I believe she has 
taken to painting already. If there was only a 
little bit of scandal in the matter ! but that is 
past praying for. It is a regular quiet amicable 
innocent alliance; the very worst thing for such 
a boy in the world. 

I have gone on writing about your poor 
brother and all those dreadful people, and quite 
forgotten all I meant to say to you : but really I 
want you to exert your influence over Redgie. 
Get him to come and stay with you at once, 
before the Radworths arrive ; I wish to Heaven 



58 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

he could come here to be talked round. I know 
I could manage him. Didn't I manage him when 
he was fourteen, and ran away frpm home over 
here, and you brought him in ? You were 
delicious at eleven, my dear, and fell in love with 
him on the spot, like your (and his) old grand- 
mother. Didn't I send him back at once, though 
I saw what a state he was in, poor dear boy, and 
in spite of you and his mother ? I could cry to 
this day when I think what a beautiful boy he 
was to look at, and how hard it was to pack him 
off in that way, knowing as we all did that he 
would be three-quarters murdered when he got 
home (and I declare Captain Harewood ought to 
have been put in the pillory for the way he used 
to whip that boy every day in the week I firmly 
believe it was all out of spite to his mother and 
me) ; and you all thought me and your father 
desperately cruel people, you know, as bad as 
Redgie's father ; but I was nearly as soft at 
heart as either of you, and after he went away in 
the gig I cried for five minutes by myself. Never 
cry in public (that is, of course, not irrepressibly) 
as your mother did then, and if you ever have 
children don't put your arms round their necks 
and make scenes ; it never did any good, and 
people always get angry, for it makes them look 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 59 

fools, and they give you an absurd reputation in 
the boiled-milk line. Your father was quite put 
out with her after that demonstrative scene with 
Redgie, and it only made matters worse for the 
boy at parting, without saving him a single cut 
of the rod when he got home, poor fellow ! I 
never was sorrier for anybody myself ; he was 
such a pretty boy ; you ought to remember : for 
after all he is your half-brother, and might have 
been a whole one if Captain H. had not been such 
a ruffian. Your poor mother never was the best 
of managers, but she had a great deal to bear. 

Here I have got off again on the subject of my 
stupid old affection for Redgie, and made you 
think me the most unbearable of grandmothers. 
I must try and show you that there are some 
sparks of sense left in the ashes of my old woman's 
twaddle. But do you know you have made it 
really difficult for me to advise you ? You write 
asking what to do, and I have only to think what 
I want you to avoid ; for of course you will do the 
reverse of what I tell you. And in effect it seems 
to me to matter very little what you do just now. 
However, read over this next paragraph ; con- 
strue it carefully by contraries ; and see what you 
think of that in the way of advice. 

Invite Frank to Lidcombe, as soon as the 



60 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Radworths come ; get up your plan of conduct 
after some French novel Balzac is a good model 
if you can live up to him ; encourage Mrs. Rad- 
worth, don't snub her in any way, let her begin 
patronizing you again ; she will if you manage 
her properly ; be quite the child with her, and, if 
you can, be the fool with her husband ; but you 
must play this stroke very delicately, just the 
least push in the world, so as to try for a cannon 
off the cushion ; touch these two very lightly so as 
to get them into a nice place for you, when you 
must choose your next stroke. I should say, get 
the two balls into the middle pocket if I thought 
there was a chance of your understanding. But 
I can hear you saying, " Middle pocket ? such 
an absurd way of trying at wit ! and what does 
it mean after all ? " My dear, there is a moral 
middle pocket in every nice well-regulated family ; 
always remember and act on this. If Lord 
Cheyne or Mrs. Rad worth, or either of them, can 
but be got into it quietly, there is your game. The 
lower pocket would spoil all, however neatly you 
played for it ; but this I know you will never 
understand. And yet I assure you all the beauty 
of the game depends on it. 

If you don't like this style I should be very 
sorry if you did, and it would give me the worst 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 61 

opinion of your head I can only give you little 
practical hints, on the chance of their being use- 
ful. You know I never had any great liking for 
my nephew Francis. His father was certainly 
the stupider of my two brothers ; and, my dear, 
you have no idea what that implies. If you had 
known your husband's father, your own great- 
uncle, you would not believe me when I say his 
brother was stupider. But John was ; I suppose 
there never was a greater idiot than J ohn. Rather 
a clever idiot, too, and used to work and live 
desperately hard on occasion ; but, good Heavens ! 
And I can't help thinking the children take after 
him in some things. Clara to be sure is the 
image of her mother a portentous image it is, 
and I do sometimes think one ought to try and 
be sorry for Ernest Radworth, but I positively 
cannot ; and Frank is not without his points of 
likeness to her. Still the father will crop out, as 
people say nowadays in their ugly slang. Keep 
an eye on the father, my dear, and compare him 
with your husband when he does turn up. I 
don't want you to be rude to anybody, or to put 
yourself out of the way in the least. Only not 
to trust either of those two cousins too far. As 
for Cheyne's liking for Clara Radworth, I wouldn't 
vex myself about that. She cares more just now 



62 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

for the younger bird I declare the woman makes 
me talk her style, at sixty and a little over. 
There is certainly something very good about her, 
whatever we two may think. If you will hold 
her off Redgie while he is in the house (do, for 
my sake, I entreat of you) I will warrant your 
husband against her. She will not try anything 
in that quarter unless she has something else in 
hand. Cheyne is an admirable double ; any 
pleasant sort of woman can attract him to her, 
but no human power will attract him from you. 
There is your comfort or your curse, as you 
choose to make it. C. R. would never think of 
him except as a background in one of her pictures. 
He would throw out Redgie, for example, beauti- 
fully, and give immense life and meaning to the 
composition of her effects. But as I know you 
have no other visitor at Lidcombe who is human in 
any mentionable degree, I imagine she will rest 
on her oars if you do but keep her off my poor 
Redgie. You see I want you to have a sight of 
them together, that you may study and under- 
stand her on that ground only I authorize you 
to invite her and Ernest while Redgie is still with 
you (besides you will be better able to help him 
if you see it beginning again under your face) ; 
not in the least because the Radworths' being 



.'A YEAR'S LETTERS 63 

there is a pretext forlinviting Frank Cheyne, and 
Clara a good firescreen for you ; a Dieu ne plaise, 
I am not quite such a liberal old woman as that. 

But I want you to be light in your handling of 
C. R. ; give her play : it will be a charming educa- 
tion for you. If you do this even supposing 
I am wrong about your husband's devotion to 
you you are sure of him. Item : if you can 
once come over her (but for Heaven's sake don't 
irritate or really frighten her) she will be a capital 
friend for you. Find out, too, how her brother 
feels towards her, and write me word, that I may 
form my own ideas as to him. If he appreciates 
without overrating her there must be some sense 
in him. She is one of those women who are 
usually overrated by the men, and underrated by 
the women, capable of appreciating them. Mind 
you never take to despising any character of that 
sort. I mean if there is a character in the case. 

I have written you a shamefully long letter, 
and hardly a word to the point in it I dare say 
you think ; besides, I am not at all sure I should 
have written part of it to a good young married 
woman ; there is one comfort, you won't see what 
I mean in the least. One thing you must take 
on trust, that I do seriously with all my heart 
hope and mean to serve you, my dear child, and 



64 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

help you to live well and wisely and happily 
as I must say you ought. Do take care of 
Redgie ; I regard that boy as at least three years 
younger than you instead of three years older. 
Love to both of you, from your mother and 

Your very affectionate 

H. MIDHURST. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 65 



IV 

FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RAD WORTH 

London, Jan. 25th. 

MY DEAREST CLARA : 

I AM off to Lidcombe in a fortnight's time, and 
shall certainly not return to Oxford (if I do at 
all) till the summer term. I really wonder you 
should think it worth while to dwell for a second 
on what Lady Midhurst may choose to say : for I 
cannot suppose you have any other grounds to go 
on than this letter of hers ; and certainly I do not 
intend to alter my plans in the least on account of 
her absurdities. You must remember what our 
father used to say about her " impotent inconti- 
nence of tongue." I should be ashamed to let a 
vicious, virulent old aunt influence me in any way. 
I am fond of our cousins, and enjoy being with 
them ; it is a nice house to stay at, and, as long 
as we all enjoy being there together, I cannot see 
why we should listen to any spiteful and senseless 
commentaries. To meet you there will of course 
make it all the pleasanter ; I need not fear that 

F 



66 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

you will take the overseer line with me, what- 
ever our aunt's wisdom may suggest. As to 
Amicia, I think she is very delightful to be with, 
and fond of us all in a friendly amiable way ; 
and I know she is very beautiful and agreeable 
to look at or talk to, which never spoils any- 
thing ; but as to falling in love, you must have 
the sense to know that nobody over eighteen, or 
out of a bad French novel, would run his head 
into such a mess : to say nothing of the absurdity 
or the villainy of such a thing. It all comes of 
the ridiculous and infamous sort of reading which 
I have no doubt the dear aunt privately indulges 
in. I do hope you will never quote her authority 
to me again, even in chaff. I never can believe 
that she really had the bringing up of Amicia in 
her own hands ; it is wonderful how little of the 
Midhurst mark has been left on her. I suppose 
her father was a nicer sort of fellow to begin with ; 
for as to our cousin Mrs. Stanford, one can hardly 
suppose that she bequeathed Amy an antidote to 
her own blood. I am sure her son has enough 
of the original stamp on him : I do not wonder 
at Lady M.'s liking for him, considering. You 
decidedly need not be in the least afraid of any 
excessive intimacy between us. Redgie Hare- 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 67 

wood has been some weeks in town it seems, and 
I have met him two or three times. I agree with 
you that he is just what he used to be, only on 
a growing scale. At school I remember he used 
simply \.Q fldnev nine days out of ten, and on the 
tenth either get into some serious row, or turn up 
with a decent set of verses for once in a way. 
I dare say he will be rather an available sort of 
inmate at Lidcombe : you will have to put up 
with him at all events if you go, for I believe he is 
there already. Really, if you can get on with 
him at first, I think you will find there are worse 
fellows going. It appears, for one thing, that 
his admiration of you is immense. He does me 
the honour to seek me out, rather with a view I 
suppose of getting me to talk about you. That 
meeting here in London, after his final flight from 
Oxford mists in the autumn term, seems to have 
done for him just now. So, if you ever begin 
upon the subject of Amicia to me, I shall retort 
upon you with that desirable brother of hers. 
I should like to see old Harewood's face if his 
son were ever to treat him to such a rhapsody as 
was inflicted upon me the last time Reginald was 
in my rooms here. 

I start next week, so probably I shall be at 

F 2 



68^ LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Lord Cheyne's before you. Come as soon as 
you can after me, and take care of Ernest. Do 
as you like for the rest, but pray write no more 
Midhurst letters at second-hand to 

Your affectionate brother, 

FRANCIS CHEYNE. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 69 



LADY CHEYNE TO FRANCIS CHEYNE 

Lidcombe, Feb. ist. 

You know, I hope, that we expect your sister and 
Mr. Radworth in the course of the week ? I 
have had the kindest letter from her, and it will 
be a real pleasure to see something more of them 
at last. I have always liked your brother-in-law 
very much ; I never could understand your 
objection to scientific men. They seem to me 
the most quiet, innocuous, good sort of people 
one could wish to see. I quite understand Clara's 
preferring one to a political or poetical kind 
of man. You and Reginald are oppressive with 
your violent theories and enthusiasms, but a 
nice peaceable spirit of research never puts out 
anybody. I remember thinking Mr. Radworth's 
excitement and delight about his last subject of 
study quite touching ; I am sure I should enter 
into his pursuits most ardently if I were his wife. 
It is strange to me to remember I have not seen 
either of them since they called last at Ashton 



70 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Mildred, a few months before my marriage. I 
suspect your sister has a certain amount of con- 
tempt for my age and understanding ; all I hope 
is that I shall not disgrace myself in the eyes of 
such a clever person as she is. Clara is one of 
the people I have always been a little in awe of ; 
and I quite believe, if the truth were known, you 
are rather of the same way of feeling yourself. 
However, I look to you to help me, and I dare 
say she will be lenient on the whole. Her letter 
was very gracious. 

I suppose you have heard of Reginald's 
arrival ? He is wild at the notion of seeing your 
sister again. I never saw anybody so excited or 
so intense in his way of expressing admiration. 
It seems she is his idea of perfect grace and charm ; 
I am very glad he has such a good one, but he is 
dreadfully unflattering to me in the meantime, 
and wants to form everybody upon her model. 
I hope you are not so inflammable on European 
matters as he seems to be ; but I know you used 
to be worse. Since he has taken up with Italy, 
there is no living with him on conservative 
terms. Last year he was in such a state of mind 
about Garibaldi and the Sicilian business that he 
would hardly take notice of such insignificant 
people as we are. My husband has gone through 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 71 

all that stage (he says he has), and is now rather 
impatient of the sort of thing ; he has become 
a steady ally, on principle, of strong governments. 
No doubt, as he says, men come to see things 
differently at thirty, and understand their 
practical bearing ; but nothing will get Reginald 
to take a sane view of the question, or (as Cheyne 
puts it) to consider possibilities and make allow- 
ance for contingent results. So, you see, you are 
wanted dreadfully to keep peace between the 
factions. Redgie is quite capable of challenging 
his brother-in-law to mortal combat on the issue 
of the Roman question. 

Lord Cheyne is busy just now with some 
private politics of his own, about which he 
admits of no advice. If he should ever take his 
seat, and throw his weight openly into the scale 
of his party, I suppose neither you nor Reginald 
would ever speak to either of us ? I wish there 
were no questions in the world ; but after all I 
think they hardly divide people as much as they 
threaten to do. So we must hope to retain our 
friends as long as they will endure us, in spite of 
opinions, and make the most of them in the 
interval. We look for you on the fifth. 

Believe me, ever your affectionate cousin, 

A. CHEYNE. 



72 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



VI 

LADY MIDHURST TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 

Ashton Mildred, Feb. 2ist. 

OH, if you were but five or six years younger 
(you know you were at school six years ago, my 
dear boy) ! what a letter I would write your 
tutor ! Upon my word I should like of all 
things to get you a good sound flogging. It is 
the only way to manage you, I am persuaded. I 
wish to Heaven I had the handling of you : 
when I think how sorry we all were for you when 
you were a boy and your father used to flog you ! 
You wrote me the comicallest letters in those 
days ; I have got some still. If I had only 
known how richly you deserved it ! Captain 
Harewood always let you off too easily, I have 
not an atom of doubt. How any one can be such 
a mere schoolboy at your age I cannot possibly 
conceive. People have no business to treat you 
like a man. You are nothing but a great dull 
dunce of a fifth -form boy (lower fifth,- if you 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 73 

please), and ought to be treated like one. You 
don't look at things in a grown-up way. 

I want to know what on earth took you to 
Lidcombe when those Radworths were there ? 
Of course you can't say. Now I tell you, you 
had better have put that harebrained absurd 
boy's head of yours into a wasps' nest do you 
remember a certain letter of yours to me, nine 
years ago, about wasps, and what a jolly good 
swishing you got for running your head into a 
nest of them, against all orders ? you thought it 
no end of a chouse then (I kept your letter, you 
see ; I do keep children's letters sometimes, they 
are such fun I could show you some of Amicia's 
that are perfect studies) to be birched for getting 
stung, though it was only a good wholesome 
counter-irritant ; if all the smart had been in 
your face, I have no doubt you would have been 
quite ill for a week ; luckily your dear good father 
knew of a counter-cure for inflammation of the 
skin. Well, I can tell you now that what you 
suffered at that tender age was nothing to what 
you will have to bear now if you don't run at 
once. Neither the stinging of wasps nor the 
stinging of birch rods is one quarter so bad as the 
hornets' stings and vipers' bites you are running 
the risk of. You will say I can't know that, not 



74 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

having your experience as to one infliction at 
least ; but I have been stung, and I have been 
talked of ; and if any quantity of whipping you 
ever got made you smart more than the latter 
process has made me, all I can say is that between 
your father and the birch you must assuredly 
have got your deserts for once, in a way to 
satisfy even me if I had seen it. I hope you have, 
once or twice, in your younger days ; if so, you 
must have been flogged within an inch of your life. 
However that may be, I assure you I have 
been talked within an inch of mine more than 
once. And so will you if you go on. I entreat 
and implore you to take my silly old word for it. 
Of course I am well enough aware you don't 
mind ; boys never do till they are eaten up body 
and bones. But you really (as no doubt you 
were often told in the old times of Dr. Birken- 
shaw) you really must be made to mind, my 
dear Redgie. It is a great deal worse for a man 
than for a woman to get talked about in such a 
way as you two will be. If there was any real 
danger for your cousin you don't suppose I 
would let Amicia have you both in the house at 
once ? But as you are the only person who can 
possibly come to harm through this nonsensical 
business, I can only write to you and bore you to 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 75 

death. I have no doubt you are riding with 
Clara at this minute ; or writing verses Amicia 
sent me your last seaside sonnet detestable it 
was ; or boating ; or doing something dreadful. 
It is really exceedingly bad for you : I wish to 
goodness you had a profession, or were living in 
London at least. If you could but hear me 
talking you over with Mr. Stanford ! and the 
heavy smiling sort of way in which he " regrets 
that young Harewood should be wasting his time 
in that lamentable manner believes there was 
some good in him at one time, but this miserable 
vie de fltineuv. Lady Midhurst" (I always bow 
when he speaks French in his fearful accent, and 
that stops him), " would ruin any boy. Is very 
glad Amicia should see something of him now 
and then, but if he is always to be on those terms 
with his father most disgraceful," and so forth. 
Now, do be good for once, and think it over. I 
don't mean what your stepfather says (at least, 
the man who ought to have been your stepfather, 
if your filial fondness will forgive me for the hint), 
but the way people will look at it. I suppose 
I should pique you dreadfully if I were to tell you 
that nobody in the whole earth imagines for a 
second that there is a serious side to the business. 
You are not a compromising sort of person you 



76 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

won't be for some years yet ; and you cannot 
compromise Clara. She knows that. So does 
Amicia. So does Ernest Radworth even, or he 
ought, if he has anything behind his spectacles 
whatever, which I have always felt uncertain of. 
I wonder if I may give you a soft light suggestion 
or two about the object of your vows and verse ? 
I take my courage in both hands and begin. 
C. R. (you will remember I saw nearly as much 
of her when she was a girl as I did of Amicia, and 
I always made a point of getting my nephews 
and nieces off by heart) is one of the cleverest 
stupid women I know, but nothing more. Her 
tone is, distinctly, bad. She has the sense to 
know this, but not to improve it. The best 
thing I have ever noticed about her is that, 
under these circumstances, she resolves to make 
the most of it. And I quite allow she is very 
effective when at her best very taking, especially 
with boys. When she was quite little, she was 
the delight of male playfellows ; girls always 
detested her, as women do now. (You may put 
down my harsh judgment of her to the score of 
my being a woman, if you think one can be a 
woman at my age a thing I believe to be im- 
possible, if one has had the very smallest share 
of brains to start with.) She can't be better 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 77 

than her style, but she won't be worse. I prefer 
Amicia, I must say ; but, when one thinks she 
might have been like Lady Frances Law 
I assure you I do Clara justice when I recol- 
lect the existence of that woman, or Lucretia 
Fielding (you must have seen her at Lidcombe) ; 
but, if I had had a niece like that, I should have 
died of her. A rapid something in phobia 
neptiphobia would it be ? I suppose not ; it 
sounds barbaric, but my Greek was always very 
shaky. I learned of my husband ; he had been 
consul at some horrible hole or other ; but, any- 
how, it would have carried me off in ten days, 
at the outside. And I hope she would have been 
hanged. 

The upshot of all this is just that our dear 
C. R. is one of the safest women alive. Not for 
other people, mind ; not safe for you ; not safe by 
any means for her husband ; but as safe for her- 
self as I am, or as the Queen is. She knows her 
place, and keeps to it ; and any average man or 
woman who will just do that can do anything. 
She is a splendid manager in her way a bad, 
petty, rather unwise way, I must and do think ; 
but she is admirable in it. Like a genre painter. 
Her forte is Murillo beggar-boys ; don't you sit 
to her. A slight sketch now and then in the 



78 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Leech sporting manner is all very well. Even a 
single study between whiles in the Callot style 
may pass. But the gypsy sentiment I cannot 
stand. Seriously, my dear Redgie, I will not 
have it. When she has posed for the ordinary 
fastish woman, she goes in for a sort of Madonna- 
Gitana, a cross of Raphael with Bohemia. It 
will not do for you. 

Shall I tell you the real, simple truth once for 
all ? I have a great mind, but I am really afraid 
you will take to hating me. Please don't, my 
dear boy, if you can help, for I had always a 
great weakness for you, honestly. I hope you 
will always be decently fond of me in the long 
run, malgre all the fast St. Agneses in gypsydom. 
Well, then, she never was in love but once, and 
never will be again. It was with my nephew 
Edmund Amicia knows it perfectly when his 
father was alive. She fought for the title and 
the man with a dexterity and vigour and supple- 
ness of intellect that was really beautiful in such 
a girl as she was delicious to see. I have 
always done justice to her character since then. 
My brother would not hear of cousins marrying, 
probably because he had married one of our 
mother's French connections, who must have 
been a second cousin, at least, of his own. So 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 79 

Cheyne had to give her up ; he was a moral and 
social philosopher in those days, and an attach- 
ment more or less was not much to him he was 
off with her in no time. But, take my word for 
it, at one time he had been on with her, and 
things had gone some distance ; people began to 
talk of her as Lady Cheyne that was to be. She 
was a still better study after that defeat than 
when in the thick of the fight. It steadied her 
for life, and she married Ernest Rad worth in six 
months. Three years after my poor brother 
died, and the year after that I married Edmund 
to our dear good little Amicia, as I mean to marry 
you some day to a Queen of Sheba. 

When I say Clara's failure steadied her, you 
know what I mean ; it made her much more fast 
and loud than she was before helped in my 
poor opinion to spoil her style, but that is beside 
the question ; the real point is that it made her 
sensible. She is wonderfully sensible for a clever 
person who is (I must maintain) naturally stupid, 
or she would have gone on a higher tack altogether 
and been one of the most noticeable people 
alive. It is exquisite, charming to an old woman, 
to observe how thoroughly she is up to all the 
points of all her games. She amuses herself in 
all sorts of the most ingenious ways ; makes 



80 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

that wretch Ernest's life an Egyptian plague by 
constant friction of his inside skin and endless 
needle-probings of his sore mental places : enjoys 
all kinds of fun, sparingly and heartily at once, 
like a thoroughly initiated Epicurean (that 
woman is an esoteric of the Garden) : and never 
for an instant slips aside from the strait gate and 
narrow way, while she has all the flowers and 
smooth paving of the broad one at least all the 
enjoyment of them ; or perhaps something better. 
She is sublime ; anything you like ; but she is 
not wholesome. If she were only the least bit 
cleverer than she is I would never say a word. 
Indeed, it would be the best training in the 
world for you to fall into the hands of a real and 
high genius. But you must wait. Show me 
Athenais de Montespan and I will allow you any 
folly on her account ; but with Louise de la 
Valliere I will not let you commit yourself. You 
will say C. R. is something more than this last ; 
I know she is ; but not enough. If you had had 
your English history well flogged into you, as it 
should have been if I had had the managing of 
matters and I should have if your father had 
not been the most never mind you would 
have learnt to appreciate her. She is quite 
Elizabethan, weakened by a dash of Mary Stuart. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 81 

At your age you cannot possibly understand 
how anybody can be at once excitable and cold. 
If you will take my word for that fact, I will 
throw you another small piece of experience 
into the bargain. A person who does happen to 
combine those two qualities has the happiest 
temperament imaginable. She can enjoy her- 
self, her excitability secures that ; and she will 
never enjoy herself too much or pay too high a 
price for anything. These people are always 
exceedingly acute, unless they are absolute 
dunces, and then they hardly count. I don't 
mean that their acuteness prevents them from 
being fools, especially if they have a strong stupid 
element in them, as many clever excitable people 
have, notamment ladite Marie, who was admirably 
and fearfully f oolish for such a clever cold intellect 
as she had. I fancy our friend has more of the 
Elizabeth in her ; quite as dangerous a variety. 
If she ever does get an impulse, God help her 
friends ; but there will be no fear even then for 
herself : not the least. Only do you take care ; 
you have not the stuff to make a Leicester ; and 
I don't want you to play Essex to a silver-gilt 
Elizabeth. Silver ? she is just pinchbeck all 
through. As to heart, that is, and style ; her 
wits are well enough. 

G 



82 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Now, if you have got thus far (but I am con- 
vinced you will not), you ought to understand 
(but I would lay any wager you don't) what my 
judgment of her is, and what yours ought to be. 
She is admirable, I repeat again and again, but 
she ought not to be adorable to you ; the great 
points about her are just those which appeal to 
the experience of an old woman. The side of 
her that a boy like you can see of himself is just 
the side he ought not to care about. Of course 
he will like it if he is not warned ; but I have 
warned you : quite in vain, I am fully prepared 
to hear. If you are in effect allured and fascinated 
by the bad weak side of her I can't help it : 
liber am animam meam ; I suppose even my 
dunce of the lower fifth (at twenty-three) can 
construe that. My hand aches, and you may 
thank Heaven it does, or you would get a fresh 
dressing (as people call it) on paper. Do, my 
dear, try to make sense of this long dawdling 
wandering scrawl : I meant to be of some use 
when I began. I don't want to have my nice 
old Redgie made into a burnt-offering on the 
twopenny tinselled side-altar of St. Agnes of 
Bohemia. 

I send no message to the Lidcombe people, 
as I wrote to Amicia yesterday. Give my com- 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 83 

pliments to your father if you dare. I must 
really be very good to waste my time and trouble 
on a set of girls and boys who are far above 
caring to understand what an old woman means 
by her advice. You seem to me, all of you, even 
younger than your ages ; I wish you would stick 
to dolls and cricket. Cependant, as to you, my 
dear boy, I am always 

Your affectionate grandmother, 

HELENA MIDHURST. 

P.S. You can show this letter to dear Clara 
if you like. 



G 2 



84 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



VII 

REGINALD HAREWOOD TO EDWARD AUDLEY 

Lidcombe, March 1st. 

DID you see last year in the Exhibition a por- 
trait by Fairfax of my cousin Mrs. Rad worth ? 
You know of course I am perfectly well aware 
the man is an exquisite painter, with no end of 
genius and great qualities in his work ; but I 
declare he made a mull of that picture. It was 
what fellows call a fiasco complete. Imagine 
sticking her into a little crib of a room with a 
window and some flowers and things behind her, 
and all that splendid hair of hers done up in 
some beastly way. And then people say the 
geraniums and the wainscot were stunning pieces 
of colour, or some such rot ; when the fellow ought 
to have painted her out of doors, or on horse- 
back, or something. I wish I could sit a horse 
half as well ; she is the most graceful and the 
pluckiest rider you ever saw. I rode with her 
yesterday to Hadleigh, down by the sea, and we 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 85 

had a gallop over the sands ; three miles good, and 
all hard sand ; the finest ground possible ; when 
I was staying here as a boy I used to go out with 
the grooms before breakfast, and exercise the 
horses there instead of taking them up to the 
downs. She had been out of spirits in the 
morning, and wanted the excitement to set her 
up. I never saw her look so magnificent ; her 
hair was blown down and fell in heavy un- 
curling heaps to her waist ; her face looked out 
of the frame of it, hot and bright, with the eyes 
lighted, expanding under the lift of those royal 
wide eyelids of hers. I could hardly speak to her 
for pleasure, I confess ; don't show my avowals. 
I rode between her and the sea, a thought behind ; 
a gust of wind blowing off land drove a wave of 
her hair across my face, upon my lips ; she felt it 
somehow, I suppose, for she turned and laughed. 
When we came to ride back, and had to go slower 
(that Nourmahal of hers is not my notion of 
what her horse should be I wish one could get 
her a real good one), she changed somehow, and 
began to talk seriously at last ; I knew she was 
not really over happy. Fancy that incredible 
fool Ernest Radworth never letting her see any 
one when they are at home, except some of 
his scientific acquaintances not a lady in the 



86 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

whole countryside for her to speak to. You 
should have heard her account of the entertain- 
ments in that awful house of theirs, about as 
much life as there used to be at my father's. 
Don't I remember the holiday dinners there ! 
a parson, a stray military man of the stodgier 
kind, my tutor, and the pater ; I kept after 
dinner to be chaffed, or lectured, or examined 
a jolly time that was. Well, I imagine her life 
is about as pleasant ; or worse, for she can 
hardly get out to go about at all. People come 
there with cases of objects, curiosities, stones 
and bones and books, and lumber the whole 
place. She had to receive three scientific pro- 
fessors last month ; two of them noted osteo- 
logists, she said, and one a comparative ichthyo- 
logist, or something a man with pink eyes and 
a mouth all on one side, who was always blinking 
and talking a friend of my great-uncle's, it 
seems, who presented him years ago to that 
insane ass Radworth. Think of the pair of 
them, and of Clara obliged to sit and be civil! 
She became quite sad towards the end of our 
ride ; said how nice it had been here, and that 
sort of thing, till I was three-quarters mad. 
She goes in three or four days. I should like to 



A [YEAR'S LETTERS 87 

follow her everywhere, and be her footman or 
her groom, and see her constantly. I would 
clean knives and black boots for her. If I had 
no fellow to speak or write to, I can't think how 
I should stand things at all. 



88 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



VIII 

FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH 

London, March I5th. 

You don't suppose I want you to quarrel with 
me, my dear Clara ? It is folly to tax me with 
trying (as you say) to brouiller you with the 
Stanfords or with Redgie Harewood. As to the 
latter, you know we are on good enough terms 
together ; I never was hand and glove with him 
that I recollect. Do as you like about Ports- 
mouth. I will join you if I can after some time. 
But about my extra fortnight at Lidcombe I 
must write to you. Lord Cheyne is quite gracious, 
with a faint flavour of impertinence ; I never saw 
one side of him before. (Since I left I have 
heard twice once from him and once from 
Amicia. They talk of coming up. Cheyne 
thinks of beginning to speak again. I believe 
myself he never got over your cruel handling of 
his eloquence six years ago. I remember quite 
well once during the Easter holidays hearing you 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 89 

and Lady Midhurst laugh about it by the hour.) 
Amicia is, I more than suspect, touched more 
deeply than we fancied by the things that were 
said this winter. Her manner is often queer and 
nervous, with a way of catching herself up she 
has lately taken to breaking off her sentences 
and fretting her lip or hand. I wish at times 
I had never come back. If I had stayed up last 
Christmas to read, as I thought of doing, there 
would have been nothing for people to talk of. 
Now I certainly shall not think of reading for a 
degree. Perhaps I may go abroad, with Hare- 
wood if I can get no one else. He is the sort of 
fellow to go anywhere, and make himself rather 
available than otherwise, in case of worry. 

Tenez, I suppose I may as well say what I 
meant to begin upon at once, without shirking 
or fidgeting. Well, you were right enough about 
my staying after you left ; it did lead to scenes. 
In a quiet way, of course ; subdued mufHed-up 
scenes. I was reading to her once, and Cheyne 
came in ; she grew hot, not very red, but hot and 
nervous, and I caught the feeling of her ; he 
wanted us to go on, and, as we began talking of 
other things, left us rather suddenly. We sat 
quiet for a little, and then somehow or other 
found ourselves talking about you I think 



90 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

a propos of Cheyne's preferences ; and she 
laughed over some old letter of Lady Midhurst's 
begging her to take care of Redgie Harewood, 
and prevent his getting desperately in love with 
you. I said Lady M. always seemed to me to 
live and think in a yellow-paper French novel 
cover, with some of the pages loose in sewing ; 
then A. said there was a true side to that way of 
looking at things. So you see we were in the 
thick of sentiment before we knew it. And she is 
so very beautiful to my thinking ; that clear pale 
face and full eyebrows, well apart, making the 
eyes so effective and soft, and her cheeks so per- 
fect in cutting. I cannot see the great likeness 
of feature to her brother that people talk of ; 
but I believe you are an admirer of his. It was 
after this that the dim soft patronizing manner 
of Cheyne's which I was referring to began to 
show itself, or I began to fancy it. We used to 
get on perfectly together, and he was never at 
all gracious to me till just now, when he deci- 
dedly is. 

Make Radworth come up to London before 
you go to Portsmouth or Ryde, or wherever it 
is. And do something or other in the Ash ton 
Hildred direction, for I am certain, by things I 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 91 

heard Amicia say, that Lady Midhurst " means 
venom." So lay in a stock of antidotes. I wish 
there was a penal colony for women who outlive 
a certain age, unless they could produce a certifi- 
cate of innocuous imbecility. 



92 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



IX 

LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE 

Ashton Hildred, March i8th. 

So you have made a clear house of them all, 
my dear child, and expect my applause in con- 
sequence ? Well, I am not sure you could have 
done much better. And Cheyne is perfect 
towards you, is he ? That is gratifying for me 
(who made the match) to hear of, but I never 
doubted him. As for the two boys, I should like 
to have them in hand for ten minutes ; they 
seem to have gone on too infamously. I retire 
from the field for my part ; I give up Redgie ; 
he must and will be eaten up alive, and I respect 
the woman's persistence. Bon appetit ! I bow 
to her, and retire. She has splendid teeth. I 
suppose she will let him go some day ? She 
can hardly think of marrying him when Ernest 
Radworth is killed off. If I thought she did, I 
would write straight to Captain Harewood. Do 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 93 

you think the Radworth has two years' vitality 
left him ? 

I am too old to appreciate your state of mind 
as to your cousin. You know, too, that I have 
a weakness for clear accurate accounts, and your 
style is of the vaguest. It is impossible you can 
be so very foolish as to become amour achee of a 
man in any serious sense. Remember, when 
you write in future, that I shall not for a second 
admit that idea. Married ladies, in modern 
English society, cannot fail in their duties to 
the conjugal relation. Recollect that you are 
devoted to your husband, and he to you. I 
assume this when I address you, and you must 
write accordingly. The other hypothesis is im- 
possible to take into account. As to being in 
love, frankly, I don't believe in it. I believe 
that stimulant drinks will intoxicate, and rain 
drench, and fire singe ; but not in any way that 
one person will fascinate another. Avoid all 
folly ; accept no traditions ; take no sentiment 
on trust. Here is a bit of social comedy in 
which you happen to have a part to play ; act as 
well as you can, and in the style now received 
on the English boards. Above all, don't indulge 
in tragedy out of season. Resolve, once for all, 
in any little difficulty of life, that there shall be 



94 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

nothing serious in it ; you will find it depends on 
you whether there is to be or not. Keep your 
head clear, and don't confuse things ; use your 
reason determine that, come what may, nothing 
shall happen of a nature to involve or embarrass 
you. As surely as you make this resolve and act 
on it, you will find it pay. 

I must say I wish you had been more attentive 
to my hint with regard to your brother. Study 
of the Radworth interior, and the excitement 
(suppose) of a little counterplot, would have 
kept you amused and left you sensible. I see 
too clearly that that affair is going all wrong I 
wish I saw as clearly how to bring it all right. 
Reginald is a hopeless specimen I never saw 
a boy so fairly ensorcele. These are the little 
pointless endless things that people get ruined 
by. Now if you would but have taken notice 
of things you might have righted the whole 
matter at once. If I could have seen you good 
friends with Clara I should have been content. 
But as soon as you saw there was no fear of her 
making an affair with your husband (or, if you 
prefer it, of his being tolerably courteous to her) 
you threw up your cards at once. At least you 
might have kept an eye on the remaining players ; 
a little interest in their game would have given 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 95 

you something better to think about than Frank. 
As it is, you seem to have worked yourself into 
a sort of vague irritable moral nervousness 
which is not wholesome by any means. 

I want you to go up to London for some little 
time, and see the season out. Encourage Cheyne's 
idea of public life ; it is an admirable one for 
both of you. The worst thing you could do 
would be to stay down at Lidcombe, and then 
(as you seem to think of doing) join your cousins 
again in some foolish provincial or continental ex- 
pedition. I had hoped to have seen you and Clara 
pull together, as they say now, better than you 
do ; I have failed in the attempt to make you ; 
but at least, as it seems you two can have no 
real mutual influence or rational amicable appre- 
hension of each other, I do trust you will not of 
your own accord put yourself in her way for no 
mortal purpose. Is it worth while meeting on 
the ground of mutual indifference ? I recommend 
you on all accounts to keep away from both 
brother and sister. 

Not that I underrate him, whatever you may 
think. I see he is a nice boy ; very faithful, 
brave, and candid ; with more of a clear natural 
stamp on him than I thought. The mother has 
left him enough of her quick blood and wit, and 



g6 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

it has got well mixed into the graver affection 
and sense of honour that he inherits from our 
side. I like and approve him ; but you must 
observe that all this does not excuse absurdities 
on either hand. Of course he is very silly ; at 
his age a man must be a fool or nothing : by the 
nothing I mean a pedant either of the head or 
the heart species (avoid pedants of the heart 
kind, by the way), or a coquin manque. I have 
met the latter ; Alfred Wandesford, your father's 
friend, was one of that sort at Frank's age ; 
you know his book had made a certain false 
noise gone off with a blank report flashed 
powder in people's eyes for a minute ; and, 
being by nature lymphatic and malleable at 
once, he assumed a whole sham suit of vices, cut 
out after other men's proportions, that hung 
flapping on him in the flabbiest pitiable fashion ; 
but he meant as badly as possible ; I always did 
him the justice, when he was accused of mere 
pasteboard sins and scene-painters' profligacy, to 
say that his wickedness was sincere but clumsy. 
It was something more than wickedness made to 
order. Such a man is none the less a rascal 
because he has not yet found out the right way 
to be a rascal, [or even because he never does 
find it out, and dies a baffled longing scoundrel 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 97 

with clean hands. Wandesford did neither, but 
turned rational and became a virtuous and really 
fortunate man of letters, whom one was never 
sorry to see about : and I don't know that he 
ever did any harm, though he was rather veno- 
mous and vulgar. One or two of his things are 
still worth your reading. 

Now, because Frank is neither a man of this 
sort nor of the pedant sort, but one with just the 
dose of folly proper to his age, and that folly of 
rather a good kind, I want him not to get en- 
tangled in the way that would be more dangerous 
for him than for any other sort of young man. 
I wish to Heaven there were some surgical pro- 
cess discoverable by which one could annihilate 
or amputate sentiment. Passion, impulse, vice 
of appetite or conformation, nothing you can 
define in words is so dangerous. Without senti- 
ment one would do all the good one did either 
by principle or by instinct, and in either case 
the good deed would be genuine and valuable. 
Sinning in the same way, one's very errors 
would be comprehensible, respectable, reducible 
to rule. But to act on feeling is ruinous. Feel- 
ing is neither impulse nor principle a sickly, 
deadly, mongrel breed between the two I hate 
the very word sentiment. The animalist and 

H 



9 8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

the moralist I can appreciate, but what, on any 
ground, am I to make of the sentimentalist ? 

Decide what you will do. Look things and 
people in the face. Give up what has to be 
given up ; bear with what has to be borne with ; 
do what has to be done. Remember that I am 
addressing you now with twenty years of the 
truest care and affection behind me to back up 
my advice. Remember that I do truly and 
deeply care about the least thing that touches 
you. To me you are two ; you carry your 
mother about you. 

Let us see what your last letter really amounts 
to. You have seen a good deal of your cousin for 
the last six weeks, and are vaguely unhappy at 
his going. (Once or twice, I am to infer, there 
has been a touch of softer sentiment in your 
relations to each other.) Not, I presume, that 
either has dreamt of falling in love : but you live 
in a bad time for intimacies ; a time seasoned 
with sentiment to that extent that you can 
never taste the natural flavour of a sensation. 
You were afraid of Clara too, a little ; disliked 
her ; left her to Cheyne or to Reginald, as the 
case might be (one result of which, by the by, 
is that I shall have to extricate your brother, 
half eaten, from under her very teeth) ; and let 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 99 

yourself be drawn, by a sort of dull impulse, 
without a purpose under it, towards her brother. 
Purpose I am, of course, convinced there was 
none on either side, I should like to have some 
incidents to lay hold of ; but I am quite aware 
that incidents never do happen. I wish they 
did ; anything rather than this gradual steady 
slide of monotonous sentiment down a groove of 
uneventful days. The recollection that you have 
not given me a single incident nothing by way 
of news but a frightened analysis of feeling and 
record of sentimental experience makes me 
seriously uneasy. Write again and tell me your 
plans : but for Heaven's sake begin moving ; 
get something done ; engage yourself in some 
active way of amusement. Have done with the 
country and its little charities and civilities at 
least for the present. London is a wholesomer 
and more reasonable home for you just now. 



H 2 



ioo LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



X 

LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE 

Ashton Hildred, April 6th. 

WELL, I have been to London and back, my 
dear child, with an eye to the family complica- 
tions, and have come to some understanding of 
them. When I wrote to you last month I was 
out of spirits, and no doubt very stupid and 
obscure. I had a dim impression of things being 
wrong, and no means of guessing how to get 
them right. Now, I must say I see no real 
chance of anything unfortunate or unpleasant. 
You must be cautious, though, of letting people 
begin to talk of it again. I have a project for 
getting both the boys well out of the way on some 
good long summer tour. Frank is very, nice and 
sensible ; I would undertake to manage him for 
life by the mere use of reasoning. As to Reginald, 
c'est une tite ftlee ; it may get soldered up in ten 
years' time, but wants beating about first ; I should 
like to break it myself. Actually. I had to encourage 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 101 

his verse-making pat that rampant young Muse 
of his on the back and stroke him down with 
talk of publication till he purred under my fingers. 
It is a mercy there is that escape-valve of verse. 
I think between that and his sudden engouement 
for foreign politics and liberation campaigns, and 
all that sort of thing, he may be kept out of the 
worst sort of mess : though I know one never 
can count upon that kind of boy. I should quite 
like to enrol him in real earnest in some absurd 
legion of volunteers, and set him at the Quadri- 
lateral with some scores of horrid disreputable 
piccioUi to back him. I dare say he would fight 
decently enough if he were taken into training. 
Imagine the poor child in a red rag of a shirt, 
and shoeless, marching au pas over the fallen 
dynasties to the tune of a new and noisier Mar- 
seillaise ! It would serve him right to get rubbed 
against the sharp edges of his theory ; and if he 
were killed we should have a mad martyr in the 
family, and when the red republic comes in we 
might appeal to the Committees of Public Safety 
to spare us for the sake of his memory. His 
father would die of it, for one thing ; I do think 
Redgie is fated to make him crever with rage and 
shame and horror ; so you see I shall always have 
a weak side in the boy's favour. But if you knew 



102 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

how absurd all this recandescence of revolution 
in the young people of the day seems to me ! 
My dear Amy, I have known men who had been 
dipped in the old revolution 

J'ai connu des vivants a qui Danton parlait. 

You remember that great verse of Hugo's ; I 
showed it to Reginald the last time he was 
declaiming to me on Italy, and confuted him 
out of the master's mouth. It is true of me, 
really ; both my own father and my dear old 
friend, Mr. Chetwood, had been in Paris at 
dangerous times. They had seen the great people 
of the period, and the strange sights of it. 

I have run off into all this talk about old 
recollections, and forgotten, as usual, my starting- 
point ; I was thinking of the last interview I had 
with Reginald. But I suppose you want some 
account of my stay in London. You know I had 
your house to myself (it was excellent on Cheyne's 
part to renew his offer of lending it, and spare an 
ancient relative the trouble of asking you to get 
her the loan of it from him) ; and, as your father 
came up with me, I travelled pleasantly enough, 
though we had fearful companions. I rested for 
a day or two, and then called upon the Radworths. 
Ernest looks fifty ; if he had the wit to think of 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 103 

it, I should say he must always have understated 
his real age. I have no doubt, though, he will 
live for ages (I don't mean his reputation, but 
his bodily frame) ; unless, indeed, she poisons 
him I am certain she would, if she durst. She 
herself looks older ; I trust, in a year or two, 
she will have ceased to be at all dangerous, even 
for boys. We had a curious interview ; not that 
day, but a week after. I saw Reginald next day ; 
he is mad on that score, quite. I like to see such 
a capacity for craziness ; it looks as if a man had 
some corresponding capacity for being reasonable 
when his time came. He never saw such noble 
beauty and perfection of grace, it appears ; there 
is an incomparable manner about the least thing 
she does. She is gloriously good, too has a power 
of sublime patience, a sense of pity, a royal 
forbearance, a divine defiance of evil, and various 
qualities which must ennoble any man she speaks 
to. To look at her is to be made brave and just ; 
to hear her talk is a lay baptism, out of which 
the spirit of the auditor comes forth purged, with 
invulnerable armour on ; to sit at her side is to 
become fit for the grandest things ; to shake 
hands with her makes one feel incapable of a 
mean wish. Base things die of her ; she is 
poisonous to them. All the best part of one, all 



104 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

that makes a man fit to live, comes out in flower at 
the sight of her eyes. Accepting these assertions 
as facts (remarkable perhaps, but indisputable), 
I desired to know whether Ernest Radworth 
was my friend's ideal of the glorified man ? 
heroic as a martyr he certainly was, I allowed, 
in a passive way. If a passing acquaintance 
becomes half deified by the touch of her, I put 
it to him frankly, what must not her husband 
have grown into by this time, after six years of 
marriage ? Reginald was of opinion that on him 
the divine influence must have acted the wrong 
way. The man being irredeemably bad, abject, 
stupid, there was nothing noble to be called out 
and respond to her. The only result, therefore, 
of being always close to the noblest nature created 
was, in men like him, a justly ordained increase of 
degradation. Those that under such an influence 
cannot kindle into the superhuman musty it seems, 
harden into the animal. This, Redgie averred, 
was his deliberate belief. Experience of character, 
study of life, the evidence of common sense, com- 
bined to lead him unwilling to this awful inference. 
But then, how splendid was her conduct, how 
laudable her endurance of him, how admirable 
in every way her conjugal position ! I suggested 
children. The boy went off into absolute inco- 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 105 

herence. I could not quite gather his reasons, but 
it seems the absence of children is an additional 
jewel in her crown. He is capable of finding 
moral beauty in a hump, and angelic meaning in 
a twisted foot. And all the time it is too ludi- 
crously evident that the one point of attraction is 
physical. Her good looks, such as they are, lie 
at the bottom of all this rant and clatter. We 
have our own silly sides, no doubt ; but I do 
think we should be thankful we were not born 
males. 

After this specimen of the prevalent state of 
things I felt of course bound to get hold of her 
and hear what she had to say. She had a good 
deal. I always said she could talk well ; this 
time she talked admirably. She went into moral 
anatomy with the appetite of sixty ; and she is 
under thirty that I admit. She handled the 
question in an abstract indifferent way wonder- 
ful to see. The whole thing was taken up on high 
grounds, and treated in a grand spirit of research 
worthy of her husband. She did not even pro- 
fess to regard Redgie as a brother or friend. 
In effect she did not profess anything : a touch 
of real genius, as I thought at once. He amused 
her ; she liked him, believed in him, admired his 
best points ; altogether appreciated the value of 



io6 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

such a follower by way of change in a life which 
was none of the liveliest. Not that she made 
any complaint ; she is far too sharp to poser d 
rincomprise. I told her the sort of thing was not 
a game permitted by the social authorities of the 
time and country ; the cards would burn her 
fingers after another deal or two. She took the 
hint exquisitely : was evidently not certain she 
understood, but had a vague apprehension of the 
thing meant ; fell back finally upon a noble self- 
reliance, and took the pure English tone. The 
suggestion of any harm resulting was of course 
left untouched : such a chance as that we were 
neither of us called upon to face. The whole 
situation was harmless, creditable even ; which is 
perfectly true, and that is the worst of it. As 
in most cases of Platonism, there is something to 
admire on each hand. And the existence of this 
single grain of sense and goodness makes the 
entire affair more dangerous and difficult to deal 
with. She is very clever to manage what she 
does manage, and Reginald is some way above 
the run of boys. At his age they are usually 
made of soft mud or stiff clay. 

When we had got to this I knew it was hope- 
less dissecting the matter any further, and began 
talking of things at large, and so in time of her 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 107 

brother and his outlooks. She was affectionate 
and hopeful. It seems he has told her of an 
idea which I encouraged ; that of travelling for 
some months at least. How tenderly we went 
over the ground I need not tell you. Clara does 
not think him likely to be carried off his feet for 
long. Console yourself, if you want the comfort ; 
we have no thought of marrying him. He is 
best unattached. At the present writing he no 
doubt thinks more of you than she would admit. 
I regret it ; but he does. Do you, my dear child, 
take care and keep out of the way just now. I 
hear (from Ernest Radworth ; his wife said 
nothing of it ; in fact, when he began speaking 
the corners of her mouth and eyelids flinched 
with vexation just for a breath of time) that 
there is some talk now of a summer seaside expedi- 
tion. Redgie of course ; Frank of course ; the 
Radworths, and you two. I beg you not to think 
of it. Why on earth should you all lounge and 
toss about together in that heavy way ? You 
are off to London at last, or will be in ten days' 
time, you say ; at least, before May begins. Stay 
there till it breaks up ; and then go either north 
or abroad. Yachts are ridiculous, and I know 
you will upset yourself. To be sure sentiment 
can hardly get mixed into the situation if you do. 



ro8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

The soupir entrecoupe de spasmes is not telling 
in a cabin ; you sob the wrong way. Think for 
a second of too literal heart-sickness. Cheyne is 
fond of the plan, it seems : break him of that 
leaning. He and Redgie devised it at Lidcombe, 
Ernest says (he has left off saying Harewood ; 
not the best of signs ; fcenum habet never mind 
how tied on ; if he does go mad we will adjust it ; 
but I forgot I never let you play at Latin. Rub 
out this for me ; I never erase, as you know, it 
whets and frets curiosity ; and I can't begin 
again). 

Frank, when I saw him, pleased me more than 
I had hoped. I made talk to him for some time ; 
he is unusually reticent and rational ; a rest 
and refreshment after that insane boy whom we 
can neither of us drive or hold as yet (but I shall 
get him well in hand soon, et puis gave aux ruades / 
Kick he will, but his mouth shall ache and his 
flanks bleed for it). No display or flutter of any 
kind ; a laudable, peaceable youth, it seems to 
me. Very shy and wary ; would not open up in 
the least at the mention of you : talked of his 
sister very well indeed. I see the points of resem- 
blance now perfectly, and the sides of character 
where the likeness breaks down. He is clever as 
well as she, but less rapid and loud ; the notes of 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 109 

his voice pleasant and of a good compass, not 
various. I should say a far better nature ; more 
liberal, fresher, clearer altogether, and capable 
of far more hard work. Miss Banks conies out 
in both their faces alike, though corrected of 
course by John, which makes her very passable. 

Is there much more to say ? As you must be 
getting tired again, I will suppose there is not. 
Will you understand if I suggest that in case of any 
silent gradual breach beginning between Cheyne 
and Frank, you ought to help it to widen and 
harden in a quiet wise way ? I think you ought. 
I don't mean a coolness ; but just that sort of rela- 
tion which swings safe in full midway between 
intimacy and enmity. We all trust, you know, that 
he is never to be the heir ; you must allow us to 
look for the reverse of that. Then, don't you 
see for yourself, it must be best for him to get 
a good standing for himself on his own ground, 
and not hover and flicker about Lidcombe too 
much ? I know my dear child will see the sense 
of what I say. Not, I hope and suppose, that 
she needs to see it on her own account. Good- 
night, dearest ; be wise and happy : but I don't 
bid you trouble your head overmuch with the 
heavy hoary counsels of 

Your most affectionate, 

H. M. 



no LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XI 

REGINALD HAREWOOD TO MRS. RADWORTH 

London, April i5th. 

You promised me a letter twice ; none has 
come yet. I want the sight of your handwriting 
more than you know. Sometimes I lie all night 
thinking where you are, and sometimes I dare not 
lie down for the horror of the fancy. If I could 
but entreat and pray you to come away know- 
ing what I do. Even if I dared hope the worst of 
all was what it cannot be a hideous false f ear 
of mine I could hardly bear it. As it is I am 
certain of one thing only in the world, that this 
year cannot leave us where the last did. If I 
must be away from you, and if you must remain 
with him, I cannot pretend to live in the way of 
other men. It is too monstrous and shameful to 
see things as they are and let them go on. Old 
men may play with such things if they dare. We 
cannot live and lie. You are brave enough for 
any act of noble justice. You told me once I 



A YEAR'S LETTERS in 

knew you to the heart, and ought to give up 
dreaming and hoping but I might be sure, you 
said, of what I had. I do know you perfectly, as 
I love you : but I hope all the more. If hope 
meant anything ignoble, could I let it touch on 
you for a moment ? I look to you to be as great 
as it is your nature to be. It is not for myself 
I am ashamed to write even the denial that I 
summon you to break off this hideous sort of 
compromise you are living in. What you are 
doing insults God, and maddens men who see it. 
Think what it is to endure and to act as you do ! 
I ask you what right you have to let him play at 
husband with you ? You know lie has no right ; 
why should you have ? Would you let him try 
force to detain you if your mind were made up ? 
You are doing as great a wrong as that would be, 
if you stay of your own accord. Who could 
blame you if you went ? Who can help blaming 
you now ? I say you cannot live with him 
always. If I thought you could, could I think 
you incapable of baseness ? and you know, I am 
certain you do in your inmost heart know, that 
you have shown me by clear proof how infinitely 
you are the noblest of all women. Do all prefer 
a brave and blameless sorrow, with the veil close 
over it, to a shameful sneaking happiness under 



H2 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

the mask ? There was a time when I thought 
I could have worn it if I had picked it up at your 
feet. The recollection makes me half mad with 
shame. To have conceived of a possible false- 
hood in your face is degradation enough for me. 
Now that you have set me right (and I would give 
my life to show you how much more I have loved 
you ever since) I come to ask you to be quite 
brave. Only that. I implore you now to go 
without disguise at all. You cannot speak falsely, 
I know ; but to be silent is of itself a sort of 
pretence. Speak, for Heaven's sake, that all who 
ever hear of you may adore you as I shall. Think 
of the divine appeal against wrong and all false- 
hood that you will be making ! a protest that 
the very meanest must be moved and trans- 
formed by. It is so easy to do, and so noble. 
Say why you go, and then go at once. Put it 
before your brother. Go straight to him when 
you leave the hateful house you are in. He is 
very young, I know, but he must see the great- 
ness of what you do. Perhaps one never sees 
how grand such things are never appreciates the 
reality of their greatness better than one does 
at his age. I think boys see right and wrong as 
keenly as men do ; he will exult that you are 
compelled to turn to him and choose him to serve 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 113 

you. As for me, I must be glad enough if you 
let me think I have taken any part in bringing 
about that which will make all men look upon 
you as I do with a perfect devotion of rever- 
ence and love. I believe you will let me see you 
sometimes. I would devote my whole life to 
Rad worth give up all I have in the world to 
him. Even him I suppose nothing could com- 
fort for the loss of you ; but if it ought to be ? 
At least we would find something to do. I 
entreat you to read this, and answer me. There 
can be but one answer. I wish to God I knew 
what to do that you would like done, or how to 
say what I do know that I love you as no 
woman ever has been loved by any man. What 
to call you or how to sign this, I cannot think. 
I am afraid to write more. 

R. E. H. 



H4 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XII 

MRS. RADWORTH TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 

Blocksham, April 2&h. 

MY DEAR COUSIN : 

ONE word at starting. I must not have you 
think I feel obliged to answer you at all. I 
do write, as you see ; but not because I am afraid 
of you. And I am not going to pretend you put 
me out. You shall not see me crane at the gaps. 
Your fences are pretty full of them. Seriously, 
what can you mean ? What you want, I know. 
But how can you hope I am to listen to such talk ? 
Run away from nothing ? I see no sort of reason 
for changing. You take things one says in the 
oddest way. I no more mean to leave home 
because Ernest and I might have more in common, 
than I should have thought of marrying a man 
for his "beaux yeux or for a title. I hate hypocrisy. 
You are quite wrong about me. Because I am 
simple and frank, because I like (for a change) 
things and people with some movement in them, 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 115 

you take me for a sort of tied-up tigress, a woman 
of the Sand breed, a prophetess with some dread- 
ful mission of revolt in her, a trunk packed to 
the lid with combustibles, and labelled with the 
proof-mark of a new morality : not at all. I am 
neither oppressed nor passionate. I don't want 
delivering in the least. One would think I was 
in the way of being food for a dragon. Even if 
I were, how could you get me off ? We are born 
to what we bear ; I read that and liked it, a day 
since, in de Blamont's last book. I mean to 
bear things. We all make good pack-horses in 
tune : I shall see you at the work yet. Suppose I 
have to drudge and drag. Suppose I am fast to 
the rock with a beast coming up " out of the sad 
unmerciful sea." Better women live so, and so 
they die. Can you kill my beast for me ? I sus- 
pect not. It is not cruel. It means me no great 
harm : but you it will be the ruin of. It feeds 
on the knight rather than his lady. Do you 
pass by. Be my friend in a quiet wav, and 
always. I shall be gratefuller for a kind thought 
of yours than for a sheer blow. The first you can 
afford ; the last hardly. All goodwill and kindly 
feeling does give comfort and a pleasure to natural 
people who are not of a bad make to begin with. 
I am glad of any, for my part : and take it when 

1 2 



n6 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

I can. What more could you do for me ? what 
better could I want ? Can you change me my 
life from the opening of it ? It began before 
yours was thought of ; you know I am older ; 
have been told how much, no doubt ; something 
perhaps a thought over the truth what matter ? 
I will tell you what I would have done, and 
would do, if I could. I would begin better ; I 
would be richer, handsomer, braver, nicer to look at 
and stay near, pleasanter to myself. I would be 
the first woman alive, and marry the first man : not 
an Eve though, nor Joan of Arc or Cleopatra, but 
something new and great. I would live more 
grandly than great men think. I should have 
all the virtues then, no doubt. I would have all 
I wanted, and the right and the power to feel 
reverence and love and honour of myself into 
the bargain. And my life and death should make 
up " a kingly poem in two perfect books." That 
would be something better than I can make my 
life now. I dare say I might have had a grander 
sort of man for my companion than I have 
(a better I think hardly) ; but then I might have 
been born a grander sort of woman. There is 
no end to all that, you see. I am very well as 
I am ; all the better that I have good friends. 
I began as lightly as I could, and said nothing 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 117 

of your tone of address and advice being wrong or 
out of place ; but now you will let me say it was 
a little absurd. Your desire seems to be that, 
because I have not all I might have (whereas I 
also am not all I might be), I should leave my 
husband and live alone, in the cultivation of 
noble sentiments and in vindication of female 
freedom and universal justice. How does it sound 
to you now ? I do not ask you if such a pro- 
posal ever was made before. I do not even ask 
you if it ought ever to be listened to. I make 
no appeal to the opinions of the world. I say 
nothing of the immediate unavoidable conse- 
quences. Suppose I can go, and (on some 
grounds) ought to go. Are there not also reasons 
why I ought to stay ? Reflect for a minute on 
results. Think, and decide for yourself whether 
I could leave Ernest. For no cause. Just 
because I can leave him, and like to show that 
I know I can. I ask you, is that base or not ? I 
should be disgracing him, spoiling his life and his 
pleasure in it, and using my freedom to comfort 
my vanity at the cost of his just self-esteem and 
quiet content ; both of which I should have 
robbed him of at once. I will do no such thing. 
I will not throw over the man who trusted and 
respected me loved me in a way gave me the 



n8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

care of his life, When^he married me he reserved 
nothing. I have been used generously ; I have 
received, at all events, more than I have given. 
I wish, for my own sake chiefly, that I had had 
more to give him. But what I have given, at 
least I will not take away. 

No, we must bear with the realities of things. 
We are not the only creditors. Something is due 
to all men that live. How much of their due do 
you suppose the greater part of them ever get ? 
Was it not you who showed me long ago that 
passage in Chalfont's " Essays " where he says 
I have just looked it out again ; my copy has a 
slip of paper at the page with your initials on it. 

' You are aware the gods owe you some- 
thing, which they have not paid you as yet 
all you have received at their hands being hitherto 
insufficient ? It appears also that you can help 
yourself to the lacking portion of happiness. 
Cut into the world's loaf, then, with sharp bread- 
knife, with steady hand ; but at what cost ? 
Living flesh as sensitive of pain as yours, living 
hearts as precious as your heart, as capable of 
feeling wrong, must be carved and cloven through. 
Their blood, if you dare spill it for your own sake, 
doubtless it shall make you fat. They, too, 
want something ; take from them all they have, 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 119 

and you shall want nothing. At this price only 
shall a man become rich even to the uttermost 
fulness of his desire, that he shall likewise become 
content to rob the poor." 

Ah, after the reading of such words as those, 
can we turn back to think of our own will and 
pleasure ? Dare we remember our own poor wants 
and likings ? I might be happier away from 
here ; what then, my dear cousin ? I might even 
respect myself more, feel more honourable ; and 
this, no doubt, is the greatest personal good one 
can enjoy or desire : but can I take from the 
man who relies on me the very gift that I covet 
for myself ? A gift, too, this one, which all may 
win and keep who are resolved not to lose it 
by their own fault. I, for one, Reginald, will 
not throw it away ; but I will not rob others to 
heighten my relish of it with the stolen salt of 
their life. Do you remember that next bit ? 

" And suppose now that you have eaten and 
are full ; digesting gravely and gladly the succu- 
lence and savour of your life. Is this happiness 
that you have laid hold of ? Look at it ; one 
day you will have to look at it again ; and other 
eyes than yours will. The terror of a just judg- 
ment is this, that it is a just one. The sting of 
the sentence is that you, your own soul and spirit, 



120 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

must recognize and allow that it is rightly given 
against you. Fear not the other eyes, not God's 
nor man's, if what is done remain right for ever 
in your own. Few, even among cowards, are 
really afraid of injustice. The meanest of them 
are afraid mainly of that which does at first sight 
look just. But is this right in your eyes, to have 
cut your own share out of the world in this 
fashion ? But what sort of happiness, then, is 
this that you have caught hold of ? The fairest, 
joyfullest, needfullest thing created is fire ; and 
the fist that closes on it burns. Let go, I counsel 
you, the bread of cunning and violence, the sweet 
sources of treason and self-seeking ; there are 
worse ends than the death of want. A soul 
poisoned is worse off than a starved soul." 

You used to praise this man to me, saying 
there was no grander lover of justice in the world. 
Surely to such a writer liberty and truth are as 
dear as to you or me : and this is what he admires. 
An American too, as he says himself, fed with 
freedom, full of the love of his own right ; but all 
great men would say as he says, and all good 
men would do so. I shall try at least. " There 
is an end of time, and an end of the evil thereof : 
and when joy is gone out of thee, then shall not 
thy sorrow endure for long. Nevertheless thou 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 121 

sayest, grief shall remain with me now that I 
have made an end of my pleasure ; but grief 
likewise shall not abide with thee. For before 
the beginning a little sorrow was ordained for 
thee, and also a very little pleasure ; but there is 
nothing of thine that endureth for ever." 

Do you know where I found that ? In a book 
of my husband's, the " Sayings of Aboulfadir," 
in a collection of translations headed " The Wise 
Men of the East." You see I am growing as 
philosophic as need be, and as literary. We 
know better than that last sentence, but is 
not the rest most true ? You will forgive my 
preacher's tone ; it was hopeless trying to answer 
such a letter as you wrote me in a sustained 
light manner. 

I hope you are not put out with me ; I may 
say, in ending, how sorry I should be for that. 
You must find other things to think of, with- 
out forgetting and throwing over old friendship. 
" Plenty of good work feasible in the world some- 
how," says your friend. For my poor little part, 
I have just to hold fast to what I have, and at 
least forbear doing harm. Again I ask you to 
forgive me if this letter has hurt you anywhere. 
Of course you can never show it. Farewell. 



122 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XIII 

FRANCIS CHEYNE TO LADY CHEYNE 

London, May 7th. 

I HAVE read your letter twice over carefully, and 
cannot see why we should alter our plans. My 
sister, I know, counts upon you. But I can 
imagine from what quarter the objection comes : 
and I hardly like to think you will let it act upon 
you in this way. Indeed, I for one have pro- 
mised your brother to meet him half way, on 
the understanding that we were all to be at 
Portsmouth or Ryde together. He for one would 
be completely thrown out, if our project were to 
break up. Is Lord Cheyne tired of the plan, do 
you think ? If so, I suppose there is no more to 
say. You speak so uncertainly of "having to 
give it up," and " not being sure of the summer," 
that I have perhaps missed out some such hint. 
Of course a word must be enough for us ; but I 
fear it will not be easy to get over Reginald. He 
is hot on the notion ; I think he must have a 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 123 

touch of the sea-fever. In our schooldays he 
used to bewail his fate in being cut off from the 
sea as a profession. 

May 8th. 

I left off yesterday because I wanted to go on 
differently. Now, as I mean to finish this and 
send it off at all hazards, I must speak out 
once for all. I do not think you can mean to 
break with all our hopes and recollections, and 
change the whole look of life for me. I do not 
suppose you have more regard for me than for 
any other kinsman or chance friend. And I do 
not appeal to you on the score of my own feeling. 
You are no coward to be afraid of words, or of 
harmless things I can say safely, that if I could 
die to save you trouble or suffering I should 
thank God. I love nothing seriously that does 
not somehow belong to you ; all that does not 
seems done in play, or to get the time through. 
But I am not going to plead with you on this 
ground. I ask nothing of you ; if you were to 
die to-night I should still have had more than my 
fair share of luck in life. If I am to see you again, 
I can only be as glad of it as I am now, when I 
think of you. I cannot understand why I should 
not have this too to be glad of. What can people 
say, as things are ? unless, indeed, there were 



124 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

to be a change of appearances. Then they 
might get vicious, and talk idiocy. But you 
know what I shall do. It is not I who have to 
set you right ; we neither of us want stupid 
words or anything like the professional clack of 
love. 

I think sometimes you might come to care for 
me a little more. I know you detest that. Per- 
haps the last word above had no business where 
it came in. I remember your way of saying what 
things you hated. 

I see Reginald often now ; I suppose he is all 
right. I am fond of him, but don't envy his way 
of taking things. I like to look at him and make 
out why he is thought so like you : and, I think, 
when he is with me he talks more of you than he 
used. I can hardly think he is older than I am 
when I see how much less he knows or feels of 
one thing. 

May Qth. 

I have let this lie over another day. I have 
nothing to say but that I can say nothing. When 
I begin to write, I seem to hear you speaking. 
I believe at times I can tell, by the sensation, 
what you are doing at Lidcombe. I have heard 
you speak twice since I sat down, and I know 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 125 

the dress you have on. Do not write unless 
you want. I can see how you will take this. 
I cannot help it, you understand. There is 
Reginald's knock ; but this shall go to-day, and 
I will not touch it again. 



126 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XIV 

LADY MIDHURST TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 

Ashton Hildred, May I2th. 

MY DEAR BOY : 

You are, without exception, the best fun I know. 
I have been laughing for the last two hours over 
your letter and its enclosure. You are not to 
fly out at me, mind ; I regard you with all just 
esteem, I think all manner of good things of you, 
but you are fun, you will allow. Old friends 
may remark on such points of character, and 
yet draw no blood. 

Now, my dear Redgie, what do you think I 
got by post exactly three days before this epistle 
of yours, with Clara's valuable bit of English 
prose composition so neatly inserted ? I am 
humane, and will not let your brains tingle with 
curiosity for a minute. I got this ; a note (not 
ill worded by any means) from my affectionate 
and anxious niece, C. R., enclosing your last 
letter to her. She threw herself upon me (luckily 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 127 

the space between us softened the shock of her 
weight, enabling me to bear up) with full con- 
fidence and gratitude. I could explain and 
advise ; I could support and refresh. I was to 
say whether she were right or not. To Mr. 
Radworth she could not turn for sustenance or 
counsel. Ought a wife to would a wife be 
justified if she did do so and so ? Through all 
this overture to her little performance one could 
hear thrill the tone of .British matronhood, 
tremulously strong and tenderly secure. I did 
think it was all over with some of you, but found 
rapid relief. She put it to me ; was she to 
notice it ? Was she to try to bring you to 
reason, appealing to the noble mismanaged 
nature of you ? Could she treat your letter as 
merely insulting or insane ? My private answer 
came at once Decidedly she could not ; but I 
never wrote it down it went off in a little laugh, 
quietly. She wound up with an intimation that 
I was thus taken into confidence in order to give 
me a just and clear idea of her conduct and posi- 
tion ; this she owed to herself (the debt was well 
paid, and I receipted it by return of post), but 
she would rather say as little of your folly as she 
could avoid. Of course, she put it twice as 
prettily, and in a very neat, soft way ; but I 



128 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

give you the real upshot. She understood 
Clara, you see, did that I felt warmly and 
fondly towards you ; she was aware that I could 
not but know the way in which your conduct 
would affect her, Clara ; and on your account, on 
mine (by no means, I need not say, on her own), 
she now felt various things in the sensation line 
eminently creditable to her. 

I drew breath after this, and then laid hold of 
your letter. It did not upset me, you will like 
to hear ; indeed, I compliment you on such a 
" selfless " and stainless form of devotion. You 
play Launcelot in a suit of Arthur's armour or 
rather in his new clothes after the well-known 
cut of modern tailordom, which I grieve to see 
are already cast wear or how should you come 
by them ? The vividness and loftiness of view 
throughout is idyllic. In effect, considering 
your heat of head and violence of sentiment, I 
think you behave and write nicely, nobly 
even, if you like to be told so. It is right you 
should take things in the way you do, now you 
are first plunged into them. I am glad you do 
persuade yourself of the justice and reality of 
your passionate paradoxes and crude conceptions 
about social rights and wrongs. Naturally, 
being in love, like the bad specimen you are, 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 129 

you find institutions criminal, and revolt desirable. 
It is better, taking your age into account, than 
trying to sneak under shelter of them within 
reach of the forbidden fruit. Storm the place 
if you can, but no shooting behind walls ; a good 
plan for you, as I am glad you see. Altogether, 
if you are cracked, I should say you have no un- 
sound side ; a fool you may be, but you get 
through your fooleries like a gentleman. You 
are " brave enough " too, as you said ; it was 
no coward's letter, that one. I should not for- 
give you otherwise ; but I was always sure, so 
far, of my old Redgie you never had any of 
the makings of a coward about you. I like the 
hopeless single-sighted daring of your proposals ; 
also your way of feeling what disgrace would be. 
Except in the vulgarest surface fashion, she, for 
one, will never understand that never get to 
see the gist of your first few lines, for instance, 
as I do ; but don't you get on that ground again, 
my dear boy. I like you all the better ; and that 
has nothing to do with it, you see. In a word 
allow that you were outside of all reason in writ- 
ing the letter, and I will admit you have kept well 
inside the lines of honour. So far, there is 
nothing to forgive (which is tant soit peu lowering), 
and not much to punish (which is at worst 

K 



130 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

painful). There is a school copy for you ; make 
me an exercise in C.'s style on that head. 

So much for you ; now for her side ; and I do 
beg you to read this patiently, and do me justice 
as far as you can. You send me her answer to 
your letter in a rapture of admiration, with a 
view of altering and ennobling my estimate ol 
her, which you know to be hitherto of a moderate 
kind. I am to read and kindle, acknowledge and 
adore. Is she not noble ? Let us see. Ought 
we not to do honour to such grand honesty and 
purity, such a sublime goodness ? I am not 
over sure. You write to me as to your first best 
friend (and effectively, my dear old child, I 
don't think you have a better one I do feel 
parental on your score), wishing to set my mis- 
takes right and bring me to an equitable and 
generous tone of mind : you do me the honour 
to think me capable of conversion, worthy to 
worship if I did but see the altar as it really 
stands. Being such as I am, I cannot but 
appreciate greatness and high devotion if I can 
but be brought face to face with them. That I 
think is what you mean, or rather what you had 
floating in your head when you wrote to me. 
Well, we must hope you were right. I am no 
doubt flattered ; and will try to be deserving. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 131 

Then, I must now see things as you do, and 
admit the sublimities of behaviour you have 
made out in C. R. to be real discoveries, and not 
flies in your telescope. Her noble letter to you 
a letter so fearless of misconception, so gently 
worded, so devoted, and so just must compel 
me to allow this much. Wait ; you shall have 
my poor verdict as to that by and by. 

But now, what have you to say about her 
letter to me ? Why do you suppose she sends 
me your epistle to her ? I should like to know. 
To me, honestly, it does seem like a resolution to 
be quit of all personal damage, or risk, or other 
moral discomfort ; also it does seem very like a 
keen apprehension very laudably keen of a 
chance given her to right herself, or to raise her- 
self in my judgment, by submitting the whole 
matter to me. I, as arbi tress, must decide, on 
receiving such an appeal from her, backed by 
such proofs, that she had gone on splendidly 
was worthy of all manner of praise and that 
you, as a crazy boy in the " salad days " of 
sentiment, were alone blameworthy. Now, 
frankly, do you believe she had any other mean- 
ing ? Why need she appeal to me at all ? 
Certainly I am her nearest female relation. 
Apres ? And we have always been on the 

X 2 



132 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

nicest terms. What then ? There was no call 
for her to refer to anybody. She is old enough, 
at all events (and that she will hardly deny, or 
insinuate a denial of), to manage by herself for 
herself. Do you imagine she wrote on your 
account ; applied to me for your sake ? I do 
not. How could I help her ? How could I 
settle you ? Favour me by considering that. 
One thing I could do, and that she knew well 
enough. I could change my mind as to her (she 
was always clever enough to know what my 
honest opinion of her was) and prevent, by 
simply expressing approval, if not applause, of 
her, any chance of annoyance she might other- 
wise have run the risk of. Do you see ? it was 
no bad stroke ; just the kind of sharpness you 
know I always gave her credit for. Very well 
played too by forwarding me your letter ; she was 
aware I should hardly have relied on extracts or 
summaries of her making, and was not such a 
fool as to appeal to me in a vague virtuous way. 
Upon the whole, as it seemed to her, she could 
not fail to come out admirably from the test in 
my eyes. I confess, for the sort of woman, she 
is far-sighted and sharp-sighted. Only, there is 
one thing to be taken into account ; that I have 
known both her and you since you were the 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 133 

tiniest thinking animals possible. She was not 
hard upon you ; not in the least. I was to draw 
all the inferences for myself. 

And now for her letter to you. Luckily I had 
read all this before I came to it. And after all 
I am surprised ; not admiringly by any means. 
I looked for better of her, considering. As she 
could not decently assume alarm and anger, and 
was not the woman to write in the simple Anglican 
fashion, you see there was nothing for it but to 
mix audacity with principle. She begins fairly 
on that score : the opening is not bad. But how 
could you swallow the manner ? Was there ever 
such a way of writing ? The chaff, as you others 
call it, is so poor, so ugly and paltry the tone of 
rebuke such a dead failure ; the air of sad satis- 
faction so ill put on ; the touches of sentiment so 
wretchedly coloured. I wonder she could do no 
better ; she gets up her effects with trouble 
enough, and is not a fool. As to the magnani- 
mous bits I do really want to know if it has 
never crossed your mind for a second that they 
were absolute impertinences ? Were you quite 
taken in by that talk about " man who trusted 
and respected," " just self-esteem," " used gene- 
rously," and such like ? " Received more than 
she has given " ! " Not the only creditor " ! 



134 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

why, my poor boy, I tell you again she married 
the man tooth and nail ; took him as a kite 
takes a chaffinch. Certainly he wanted her ; 
but as to having wind enough to run her down ! 
It upsets me to write about it. Throw him over ! 
It is perfect impudence to imagine she can make 
any living creature above twelve suppose that 
regard for Ernest keeps her what one calls a 
good wife. She looks it when you come upon 
them anywhere. But your age has no eyes. 
Sense of duty ? she cares for the duties and 
devotions no more than I should care for her 
reputation if she were not unhappily my relative. 
It is a grievous thing to see you taking to such a 
plat d? argot rechauffe. For pure street slang it is, 
not even the jargon of a rational society. Do 
you know what ruin means ? or compromise 
even ? And she is not the woman, by nature or 
place, to risk becoming taree in the slightest 
degree. She is thoroughly equable and cautious, 
beyond a certain point. The landmark is a 
good bit on this side of serious love-making ; 
hardly outside the verge of common sentiment. 
I assure you there is nothing to be made of her 
in any other way. She will keep you on and off 
eternally to no further purpose. 

Upon the whole I don't know that her letter 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 135 

could well have been a worse piece of work than 
it is. Why, if you would but observe it, she runs 
over into quotation before she gets a good start ; 
and I never saw this modern fashion of mournful, 
satirical, introspective writing more ungraciously 
assumed. Her sad smiles crack, and show the 
enamel. You know how an old wretch with her 
face glazed looks if she ventures to laugh or cry ? 
at least you can imagine if you will think of me 
with a coating of varnish on my cheeks and lips, 
listening to you for five minutes. Well, just in 
the same way the dried paint of her style splits 
and spoils the whole look of her letter at the 
tender semi-rident passages. It is too miserably 
palpable. Don't you see her trying to write up 
to tradition ? say what she has to say in the 
soft pungent manner she thinks proper to her 
part as a strong-minded, clear-headed, somewhat 
rapid humourist (don't suppose I meant to write 
vapid), with a touch of the high-minded unpre- 
tentious social martyr ? I must tell you a bit 
of verse I kept thinking of while I ran over this 
epistle of hers Musset, you know 

Triste ! oh, triste en verite ! 
Triste, abb ? Vous avez le vin triste ? 

If you had but the wit to take it in that way, and 
answer her accordingly ! Elle a P amour triste, 



136 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

like most of her sort. For you must allow she is 
making love, though in the unpractical way. If 
I could but see an end of this dolorous kind of 
verbal virtue and compromised sentiment this 
tender tension of the moral machine, worse for 
the nerves than the headiest draughts of raw 
sensation ! But it all comes of your books ; I 
thank Heaven we were reared on sounder stuff. 
Confess that her American sermons were too 
much for you. As for Aboulfadir, I never was 
so nearly hysterical since the decease of your 
grandfather. I actually saw Her looking out the 
bit. And your initials on the slip of paper, you 
remember ? Oh, you utter idiot ! 

Allow me one more question before you tear 
me up. Has it yet struck you what her last 
words mean ? " You can never show this " ; 
that is, in Heaven's name forward this to old 
Aunt Midhurst next time she writes spitefully 
about me. Now, Reginald, I will not have bad 
language. You know she meant that ; the 
woman capable of inditing that letter must be 
capable of thinking it good enough to influence 
any reader, upset any prejudice. You were to 
send it (you must admit you did), and it was to 
complete the grand work of refutation begun a 
week before by her appeal to me on the occasion 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 137 

of your letter. Now, I do hope you see : it was 
really a passable stroke of wit. The whole 
thing was cooked with a view to its being served 
up stewed in the same sauce. No doubt, after 
the great conception, her brain swelled with the 
sense of supreme diplomacy. Perhaps a man 
might have been taken in. Evidently a boy was. 
For my part I think it personally insulting to 
have supposed my opinion of her was to be 
affected by such a cheap specimen of the scene- 
shifter's professional knack. I see as well as 
ever how she wants to play her hand out. 

I give you a month, my dear boy, to get over 
your rage at me ; then I shall expect you to 
behave equably. Till that time I suppose I 
must let you " chew the thrice-turned cud of 
wrath." Otherwise I should beg you not to make 
one of the south-coast party I hear of. Also, if 
you did go, to stick close to your sister. As it is, 
I see you will join the rest, and waste your time 
and wits, besides sinking chin-deep in Platonic 
sloughs of love. Some day I may succeed in 
pulling you out. I dare say it ought to be a 
comfort to me to reflect that you are doing no 
great harm ; dirtier you might get, but scarcely 
wetter. The quagwater of sentiment will soak 
you to the bone. In earnest, if you go to Ports- 



138 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

mouth or elsewhere with the Cheynes, you are 
to let me hear now and then. I hope there is 
enough love or liking between us two to stand 
a little sharp weather between whiles. Even 
though I am unbearably vicious and shamefully 
stupid with regard to your cousin, you ought to 
try and overlook it. Recollect my age, I en- 
treat you. Can you expect sound judgment 
and accurate relish of the right thing from such 
an old critic as I am ? You might as well hope 
to make me see her beauty with your eyes as 
appreciate her goodness in your fashion. And 
then, bad as I may be, we have been friends too 
long to break off. If I had ever had a son in my 
younger years things would have gone differently ; 
as it was, I have always had to put up with you 
instead. A bad substitute you make, too ; but 
somehow one gets used to that. If I could have 
taken you with me from the first, and reared 
you under shelter of your mother (nice work I 
should have had of it, by the by ; but all that 
labour fell to your father's share), I would have 
broken you in better. I would, regardless of all 
expense in birch ; though as to that the Captain 
did his duty to you liberally, I will say. When 
you were born I could not realize your mother's 
age to myself in the least ; I myself was only 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 139 

thirty-eight (look me out in the dates, if you 
won't take my word for it), and I could not make 
her out old enough to have a son. Besides, I 
had always hungered after a boy. So I took to 
you from the beginning in an idiotic way, and 
by this time no doubt my weakness is developing 
into senile dotage. I don't say I always stood 
by you ; but you must remember, my dear 
Redgie, I could not always. Your ill-luck was 
mine as to that, and your mother's too. I wish 
I could have kept by you when you did want 
some of us at hand ; not that I suppose the 
softest-hearted boy feels deeply the want of a 
superincumbent grandmother. Still, we should 
all have got on the better for it, I conceive. No 
doubt, too, I have not always done the best for 
you only my best : but that I did always want 
to do. In a word, you know I love you as 
dearly as need be : and you may as well put up 
with me for fault of a better. 

Take this into account when you feel furious, 
and endeavour to make the best you can of me. 
I perceive this letter is running to seed, and 
my tattle fast lapsing into twaddle. After all, I 
don't suppose my poor shots at the pathetic 
will bring down much game of the sentimental 
kind. I might bubble and boil over with feeling 



140 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

long enough (I suspect) before you melted. 
Besides, what does it matter, I should be glad to 
know ? However, I do trust you will be as good 
a boy as you can, and not bring me to an untimely 
grave in the flower of my wrinkles. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 141 



XV 

LADY CHEYNE TO FRANCIS 

Portsmouth, May 28th. 

Do not write, and do not persist in trying to 
speak to me again. If you care for any of us, 
you will not stay here. I can do nothing. When 
my husband speaks to me, it turns me hot and 
sick with fear. I am ashamed of every breath I 
draw. If you cannot have mercy, do, for God's 
sake, think of your own honour. If you stay 
here, you may as well show this letter at once. 
I wish Cheyne would kill me. But, even if he 
saw what I am thinking of when I look at him, I 
believe he would not. He is so fearfully good to 
me. Oh, if I were to die, I should never forget 
that ! I don't know that it matters much what 
I do. I have broken my faith to him in thought, 
and, if justice were done, I ought to be put away 
from him. I look at my hand while I write, and 
think it ought to be cut off my ring burns. I 
cannot think how things can be as dreadful as 



142 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

they are. I suppose, if I can live through this, 
I shall live to see them become worse. If I 
could but see what to do, I should be content 
with any wretchedness. I never meant to be a 
bad wife. When I woke this morning, I felt 
mad. People would say there was nothing to 
repent of ; but I know. It is worse not to love 
him than it would be to leave him. What have 
you done to me ? for I never lied and cheated till 
now. After such horrible falsehood and treason 
I don't see what crime is to stop me. If I had 
known that another woman was like me at heart 
I could not have borne to let her look at me. I 
feel as if I must go away and hide myself. If 
only something would give me an excuse for 
going home ! At least, if I must stay with my 
husband, I implore you to leave me. Tell your 
sister you must go. Say you are tired. Or go 
to London to-morrow with Cheyne, and don't 
return. You can so easily excuse yourself from 
the sailing party. He stays in town one night, 
and comes down in time for it the day after. 
You can make a pretext for remaining. If you 
have any pity, you will. I have nothing to help 
me in the world. It would kill me to appeal 
to Reginald. No one could understand. I am 
sure, if you knew how I do want and trust to be 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 143 

kept right, and what a fearful life I have of it 
with this sense of a secret wearing me out, you 
would be sorry for me. And if you love me so 
much, knowing what you know now, you ought 
to be sorry. It is too late for me to get happy 
again, but I may come not to feel such unbearable 
shame as I do now, and shall while you stay. 
Promise you will not try to see me. I wonder if 
God will be satisfied, supposing you never do 
see me again ? I shall have tried to be good. I 
think He ought to have pity on me, too. But, 
if I live to grow old, I shall want to see you 
then. 



144 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XVI 

MRS. RADWORTH TO LADY MIDHURST 

Portsmouth, June 3rd. 

You will have heard, my dear aunt, of our 
wretched loss, and the fearful bereavement of 
poor Amicia. I wish I could give a reassuring 
account of her, but she appears to be quite 
broken ; it is miserable to see her. She sits for 
whole hours in her own room ; I did hope at first 
it was to seek the consolation of prayer, but that 
comfort, I fear greatly, she is not yet capable of 
feeling. She looks quite like death. I suggested 
she should go into the room where he is lying, 
and take her last look of him, but she turned 
absolutely whiter than she was, shuddered, and 
seemed quite sick. My brother is hardly less 
overcome. On a servant addressing him yester- 
day by his title, he actually sank into a chair, 
and gave way in a manner which I could not but 
regret. I am certain he would sacrifice worlds 
to restore his cousin to life. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 145 

Mr. Harewood has been throughout most 
kind. He has done all that the best friend of 
our poor child could do. Amicia will hardly see 
anyone but him. Mr. Rad worth offered to 
relieve him of some part of the wretched trouble 
and business he has undertaken to spare dear 
Amicia (Francis, I must tell you, seems incapable 
of moving) ; but he refuses to share it. I cannot 
express to you the admiration we all feel for his 
beautiful management of her, poor child. Who 
could remember at such a time the former folly 
which he must himself have forgotten ? I am 
constantly reminded that you alone always did 
him justice. 

I suppose you will wish to know the sad 
detail, and it had better perhaps be given at 
once by me than by another. We had decided, 
as you know, to take Saturday last as the day 
of our projected sail. Francis seemed curiously 
unwilling to go at first, and it was only at poor 
Lord Cheyne's repeated request that he assented. 
Amicia was very quiet, and I thought rather 
depressed I have no doubt in consequence of 
the sudden reaction from a continued strain on 
her spirits. It was a very dull party altogether ; 
only Mr. Harewood and poor Edmund seemed 
to have any spirits to enjoy it. They talked 

L 



146 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

a great deal, especially about summer plans. 
Quite suddenly, we heard ahead what I fancied 
was the noise of the overfalls, and began passing 
out of smooth water. I thought it looked 
dangerous, but they would put inshore. Feeling 
the waves run rapidly a little higher and higher, 
I said something to Amicia, who I knew was a 
bad sailor, and as she scarcely answered, but lay 
back in the boat, I feared the discomfort to her 
of rough water had begun. I stooped forward, 
as well as I remember, to sign to my husband to 
make Lord Cheyne look at her. Ernest, in his 
nervous absent way, failed to catch my meaning, 
and, in rising to speak to me, was pitched forwards 
with a jerk, and came full against Mr. Harewood, 
who was helping to shift a sail. Then I really 
saw nothing more but that the sail-yard (is it a 
yard they call the bit of wood a sail is tied to ? T ) 
swung round, and I screamed and caught hold of 
Amicia, and next second I saw poor Lord Cheyne 
in the water. He caught at Francis, who was 
next him, and missed. Mr. Harewood jumped 
in after him with his coat on, but he could hardly 
make the least way because of the ground swell. 
They had to pull him in again almost stifled, and 

1 NOTE (?by Lady Midhurst). "Too ingenuous by half for 
the situation." 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 147 

I feared insensible. Before I came to myself so 
as to see what anybody was doing, they had got 
the body on board, and Francis and the sailors 
and Ernest were trying to revive it. Amicia, 
who was shaking dreadfully, kept hold of her 
brother, chafing and kissing his face and hands. 
How we ever got back God knows. Amicia 
seemed quite stunned ; she never so much as 
touched her husband's hand. When we came to 
get out, I thought Francis and my husband 
would have had to support her, but Mr. Rad- 
worth was quite useless, and poor Francis could 
not bear even to look at her misery. So Mr. 
Harewood (who was really unfit to walk himself) 
and one of the sailors had to carry her up to the 
house. The funeral takes place to-morrow ; I 
trust my brother may be able to attend, but 
really he seems at times perfectly broken down 
in health and everything. 



L2 



148 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XVII 

LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE 

Ashton Hildred, June 6th. 

MY DEAREST CHILD : 

I WOULD not let your mother go, or she would 
have been with you before this. It must have 
done her harm. She is not well enough even to 
write ; we have had to take her in hand. It is 
a bad time for us all ; we must live it down as 
we best may. I thought of advising your father 
to be with you before the funeral, but she would 
hardly like him to leave her. I shall start myself 
to-morrow, and take you home with me. You 
had better not go to Lidcombe. With us you 
will at least have thorough quiet, and time to 
recover by degrees. Now no doubt you are past 
being talked to. I only hope those people do 
their best for you. It is well now that nothing 
ever came between poor Cheyne and you. 
I suppose you have had as quiet and unbroken a 
time since your marriage as any one ever does 
get. The change is sharp ; all changes are that 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 149 

turn upon a death. I know, too, that he loved 
you very truly, and was always good, just, and 
tender to all he knew ; a man to be seriously 
and widely regretted. It may be that you are 
just now inclining to believe you will never get 
over the pain of such a loss. Now, in my life, I 
have lost many people and many things I would 
have given much to keep. I have repented and 
lamented much that I have done, and more that 
has happened to me sometimes through my 
own fault. But one thing I do know, and would 
have you lay to heart that nobody living need 
retain in his dictionary the word irretrievable. 
Strike it out, I advise you ; I erased it from mine 
long ago. Self-reproach and the analysis of 
regret are most idle things. Abstain at least from 
confidences and complaints. Bear what you 
have to bear steadily, with locked teeth as it 
were. This minute may be even graver than you 
think. I know how expansion follows on the 
thaw of sudden sorrow. I am always ready to 
hear and help you to the best of my poor old 
powers ; but, even to me, I would not have you 
overflow too much. I write in all kindness and 
love to you, my poor child, and I know my sort 
of counselling is harsh, heathen, mundane I 
can hardly help your way of looking at it. No 



150 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

one is sorrier than I am ; no one would give more 
to recall irrevocable things. But once again I 
assure you what cannot be recalled may be 
retrieved. Only the retrieving must come from 
you : show honour and regard to Cheyne's 
memory by controlling and respecting yourself to 
begin with. If you have some floating desire to 
make atonement of any kind, atone in that way. 
But if you have any such feeling, there is a 
morbid nerve ; you should labour to deaden it 
by no means to stimulate. 

I am more thankful than I can say that you 
have Reginald with you. The boy is affectionate, 
and not of an unhealthy nature. He ought to 
be of use and comfort ; I am sure he is good for 
you. I can well believe you see no more of 
others than you can help. It was nice for me to 
hear from any quarter that Redgie had done his 
part well. There ought always to be a bond 
between you two. Family ties are invaluable 
where they are anything : and neither of you 
could have a better stay in any time of need than 
the other. As to friendships of a serious nature 
(very deeply serious that is) between man and 
man, or between woman and woman, I have no 
strong belief in their existence none whatever 
in their possible usefulness. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 151 

I shall be with you in two days at latest ; wiil 
you understand if I ask you to wait for me ? Till 
I come, do nothing for yourself ; say nothing to 
anybody. For your mother's sake and mine, who 
have some claims to be thought of I add no 
other name ; I don't want to appeal on any 
grounds but these ; but you know why you should 
spare her. Restraint and reserve at present will 
be well made up to you afterwards. I can 
imagine you may want some one to lean upon ; 
I dare say it is hard now to be shut up and self- 
reliant ; but I would not on any account have 
you expand in a wrong direction. I could wish 
to write you a softer-toned letter of comfort than 
this ; but one thing I must say : do not let your 
grief hurry you even for one minute beyond the 
reach of advice. As for comfort, my dearest child, 
what can I well say ? I have always hated 
condolence myself : where it is anything, it is bad 
helpless and senseless at best. A grievous thing 
has happened ; we can say no more when all com- 
ment has been run through. To us for some 
time I say to us, callous as you are now think- 
ing me the loss and misfortune will seem even 
greater than they are. You have the worst of it. 
Nevertheless, it is not the end of all things. The 
world will dispense with us some day ; but it 



152 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

shall not while we can hold out. Things must go 
on when we have dropped off ; but, while we can, 
let us keep up with life. These are cold scraps 
enough to feed regret with ; but they are at least 
solid of their kind, which is more than I would 
say of some warmer and lighter sorts of moral 
diet. As for what is called spiritual comfort, I 
would have you by all means take and use it, 
if you can get it, and if the flavour of it is natural 
to you : I know the way most people have of 
proffering and pressing it upon one ; for my part 
I never pretended to deal in it. I know only 
what I think and feel myself ; I do not profess to 
keep moral medicines on hand against a time of 
sickness. Heaven knows I would give much, or 
do much, or bear much, to heal you. But indeed 
at these times, when one must speak (as I have 
now to do), I prefer things of the cold sharp 
taste to the faint tepid mixtures of decocted sen- 
timent which religious or verbose people serve 
out so largely and cheaply. I may be the worse 
comforter for this ; but to me comments, either 
pious or tender, usually leave a sickly sense after 
them, as of some flat, unwholesome drug. I am 
not preaching paganism ; I would have you seek 
all reasonable comfort or support wherever it 
seems good to you. But I for one cannot write 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 153 

or talk about hopes of reunion, better life, 
expiation, faith, and such other things. I believe 
that those who cannot support themselves cannot 
be supported. Those who say they are upheld 
by faith say they are upheld by a kind of energy 
natural to them. This I do entirely allow ; and 
a good working quality it is. But any one who 
is utterly without self-reliance will collapse. There 
can be nothing capable of helping the helpless. 
So you must be satisfied with the best I can give 
you in the way of comfort. 

I see well enough that I am heathenish and 
hard. But I know your trouble is a great one, 
and I will not play with it. It would be easy to 
write after the received models, if the thing were 
not so serious. Time will help us ; there is no 
other certain help. Some day when you are old 
enough to reconsider past sorrows you will admit 
that there was a touch of truth in my shreds of 
pagan consolation. Stoicism is not an exploded 
system of faith. It may be available still when 
resignation in the modern sense breaks down. 
Resign yourself by all means to the unavoidable ; 
take patiently what will come ; refuse yourself 
the relaxation of complaint. Have as little as 
you can to do with fear, or repentance, or retro- 
spection of any kind. Fear is unprofitable ; to 



154 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

look back will weaken your head. As to repent- 
ance, it never did good or undid harm. Do not 
persuade yourself either that your endurance of 
things that are is in any way a sacrifice of Chris- 
tian resignation offered to the supreme powers. 
That is the unhealthy side of patience ; the forti- 
tude of the feeble. Be content to endure without 
pluming yourself on a sense of submission. For, 
indeed, submission without compulsion can never 
be anything but the vicious virtue of sluggards. 
We submit because we must, and had better not 
flatter ourselves with the fancy that we submit 
out of goodness. If we could fight our fate we 
all would. It is not the desire to resist that we 
fail in, but the means ; we have no fighting 
material. It would not be rebellion, but pure 
idiocy or lunacy, for us to begin spluttering and 
kicking against the pricks ; but, on the other 
hand, that is no reason why we should grovel 
and blubber. It is a child's game to play at 
making a virtue of necessity. I say that if we 
could rebel against what happens to us we would 
rebel. Christian or heathen, no man would really 
submit to sorrow if he could help it. Neither 
you nor I would, and therefore do not try to 
believe you are resigned, as people call it, to God's 
will in the strict religious sense. For if sub- 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 155 

mission means anything that a Stoic had not it 
means something that no one ever had or ought 
to have. Courage, taking the word how you will, 
I have always put at the head of the virtues. Any 
sort of faith or humility that interferes with it, 
or impairs its working power, I have no belief in. 
But, above all things, I would have you always 
keep as much as you can of liberty. Give up all 
for that ; sacrifice it to nothing to no religious 
theory, to no moral precept. All slavishness, 
whether of body or of spirit, leaves a taint where 
it touches. It is as bad to be servile to God as it 
is to be servile to man. Accept what you must 
accept, and obey where you must obey ; but make 
no pretence of a " freewill offering." That sort of 
phrase and that sort of feeling I hold in real abhor- 
rence. Weak people and cowards play with such 
expressions and sentiments just as children do 
with tin soldiers. It is their substitute for serious 
fighting ; because they cannot struggle, they say 
and believe they would not if they could ; most 
falsely. Give in to no such fancies : cherish no 
such forms of thought. Liberty and courage of 
spirit are better worth keeping than any indul- 
gence in hope and penitence. I suppose this tone 
of talk is unchristian ; I know it is wholesome 
though, for all that. God knows, our scope of 



156 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

possible freedom is poor and small enough ; that 
is no reason why we should labour to circum- 
scribe it further. We are beaten upon by neces- 
sity every day of our lives : we cannot get quit 
of circumstances ; we cannot better the capacities 
born with us ; all the less on that very account 
need we try to impair them. Because we are 
all purblind, more or less, must we pluck out our 
eyes to be led about by the ear ? Is it any 
comfort, when we look through spectacles that 
show us nothing but shapeless blurs and blots, 
to be told we ought to see clearly by their help, 
and must at least take it for granted that others 
do ? Rather I would have you endure as much 
as you can, and hope for as little as you can. 
All wise and sober courage ends in that. Do, in 
Heaven's name, try to keep free of false hopes 
and feeble fears. Face things as they are ; think 
for yourself when you think of life and death, 
joy and sorrow, right and wrong. These things 
are dark by the nature of them ; it is useless 
saying they can be lit up by a candle held in 
your eyes. You are only the blinder ; they are 
none the clearer. What liberty to act and think 
is left us, let us keep fast hold of ; what we cannot 
have, let us agree to live without. 

This is a strange funeral sermon for me to 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 157 

preach to you across a grave so suddenly opened. 
Only once or twice in the many years of one's 
life the time comes for speaking out, if one will 
see it these are matters I seldom think over and 
never talk about, wishing to keep my head and 
eyes clear. But my mind was made up, if I did 
write to you, to keep back nothing I had to say, 
and affect nothing I had not to say. You are 
worth counsel and help, such as I can give ; the 
occasion, too, is worth open and truthful speech. 
I do not pray that you may have strength sent 
you ; you must take your own share of work and 
endurance ; you have to make your strength for 
yourself. I say again, time will help you, and 
we should survive this among other lamentable 
things. But for me, now that I have said my say 
and prayed my prayers over the dead, I shall 
not preach on this text again. What my love 
and thought for you can do in the way of honest 
help has been done. If you want more in this 
time of your danger and sorrow, you will not ask 
it of me. Suppose I were now dying, I could 
not add a word more to leave you by way of com- 
fort or comment. For once I have written fully, 
and shown you what I really think and look for 
as to these matters. I shall never open up again 
in the same way to any one while I live. I have 
unpacked my bag for you ; now I put it away for 



158 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

good, under lock and seal. When we meet, and 
as long as we live together, let us do the best we 
can in silence. 

I add no message ; all that would be said you 
know without that. It could only weaken you 
and sharpen the pain of the day to you to receive 
tender words and soft phrases copied out to no 
purpose. I have told your mother she had best 
not write forgive me if you regret it. Indeed, I 
doubt whether she would have tried. When you 
are here, we must all manage to gain in strength 
and sense. If this letter of mine strikes cold 
upon your sorrow, I can but hope you may find, 
in good time, something or some one able really 
to soothe and support you better than I can. 
Meantime, if you read it with patience, I hope it 
may help to settle you ; save you from the useless 
self-torture of penitent perplexity and the misery 
of a petted retrospect ; and lighten your head, at 
all events, of some worry, if it cannot just now 
affect you at heart for the better, as other com- 
forters might profess to do. No one, to my 
thinking, can " help the heart " wise phrase of 
a wiser poet than your brother ever will make. 

There, I suppose, you must suffer at present. 
How things are to go with us later on, I cannot 
say or see. But while you live, and whatever you 
do, believe at least in the love I have for you. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 159 



XVIII 

LADY MIDHURST TO FRANCIS CHEYNE 

Ashton Hildred, July 28th. 

MY DEAR FRANK : 

I WOULD not have you write to Amicia about 
those minor arrangements you speak of. Matters 
had better be settled with me, or by means of 
your sister. We know you will do all you can 
in the best possible way ; and she is not yet well 
enough to bear worry. I fear, indeed, that she 
has more to bear physically than we had thought 
of. She keeps getting daily more white and 
wretched, and we hardly know how to handle her. 
When she arrived, she had a sort of nervous look 
of strength, which begins now to fail her com- 
pletely ; spoke little, except to me, but fed and 
slept like a rationally afflicted person. Now I 
see her get purplish about the eyes, and her 
cheeks going in perceptibly. It will take years 
to set her straight if this is to go on. She is 
past all medicine of mine. I dare say she will 
begin to develope a spiritual tendency she reads 



i6o LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

the unwholesomest books. The truth is, she is 
far too young to be a widow. That grey and 
cynical condition of life sits well only upon 
shoulders of thirty or forty. She is between 
shadow and sun, in the dampest place there is. 
Mist and dew begin to tell upon her brain : there is 
the stuff of a conversion in her just now. I tell 
you this because you have known her so well, and 
were such good friends with her that you will be 
able to take my meaning. I am sure you do 
want to hear, and sincerely wish all things right 
with her again. I hope they may be in time we 
must take them as they are now. Meantime, it 
is piteous enough to see her. She comes daily to 
sit with me for hours, and has a way of looking up 
and sighing between whiles which is grievous to 
me. Again, at times, I seem to have glimpses of 
some avowal or appeal risen almost to her lips, 
and as suddenly resigned. Her words have tears 
in them somehow, even when she talks peaceably. 
I had no suspicion of so deep or keen a regard 
on her part. Our poor Edmund can hardly have 
given her as much, one would say. But who 
knows what he had in him ? He was strange 
always, with his gentle cold manner, and had 
rare qualities. " I forget things," she said one 
day on a sudden to me I never know what she 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 161 

does think of. Another time, " I wish one could 
see backwards." 

I am glad you went at once to Lidcombe ; you 
will make them a good lord there. Edmund 
always hung loose on the place. Some day, I 
suppose, you will have to marry, but you are full 
young as yet. I should like to see what the 
house will hold in ten years' time, but do not 
much expect the luck. Early deaths age people 
who hear of them. I feel the greyer for this 
month's work. They tell me you have had 
Captain Harewood to help you in settling down 
and summing-up. As he was, in a manner, your 
guardian for a year or two after the death of 
your father, I suppose he is the man for such 
work. I believe he had always a good clear 
head and practical wit. That wretched boy of 
his doubtless lost his chance of inheriting it 
through my fault. We came in there and spoilt 
the blood. I fancy you have something of the 
same good gift. It is one I have always coveted, 
and always failed of, that ready and steady 
capacity for decisive work. Your mother was a 
godsend to our family we never had the least 
touch of active sense among us. All my brother's, 
now, was loose muddled good sense, running over 
into nonsense when he fell to work. The worst 

M 



162 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

of him was his tendency to vacuous verbose 
talk ; he was nearly as long-breathed, and as 
vague in his chatter, as I am. Not such a thorn 
in the flesh of correspondents, though, I imagine. 
I hear Reginald is with his father at Plessey. 
The place is just endurable in these hot months, 
but always gives me a notion of thawing-time 
and webbed feet. It is vexatious, not being able 
to send for the boy here. Amy would be all the 
better for him ; but of course it is past looking 
for. She talks of him now and then in a very 
tender and grateful way. " Redgie was very 
good ; I wonder what his wife will be ? " she said, 
once. There was no chance of such luck for him 
in sight, I suggested ; but she turned to me with 
singular eyes, and said, " I should like her if 
she would marry him soon." She has a carte 
de visite of him, which is made much of. Her 
husband never would sit for one, I recollect. It 
seems Redgie was useful when nobody else could 
have done much good. Those few days were 
hideous. I never shall forget that white dried 
face of hers, and the heavy look of all her limbs. 
Poor child, I had to talk her into tears. She 
had the ways of old people for some time after. 
Even now she is bad enough ; worse, as I told 
you, in some things. It is great amiability to 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 163 

express such feeling about turning her out as you 
do. No help for it, you know. She would have 
had more to bear at Lidcombe ; and you will 
soon fit well into the old place. Very fond of it 
she certainly was, and some day, perhaps, I may 
take her over to see you. That will be years 
hence. Your wife must be good to the dowagers 
I dare say she will. It will be curious to meet 
there anyhow. One thing is a pity, that Amicia 
can never have a child to keep her company ; 
for I think she can hardly marry again, young as 
she is. A daughter would have done you no 
harm, and left her with one side of life filled up 
she would have made a perfect mother. I used 
to think she had much of the social type of 
Englishwoman. It is such a broken-up sort of 
life that one anticipates for her. And there 
was such a tender eager delight in affection, 
such a soft and warm spirit, such pure pleasure in 
being and doing good it is the most delicious 
nature I know. But you know her, too. Love to 
your sister from both, if she is still with you. 
Or did they leave when the Plessey people went ? 



M 2 



164 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XIX 

FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RAD WORTH 

Lidcombe, Aug. i6th. 

I DO not see how I can possibly stay here. If 
you had not gone so soon we might have got on ; 
now it is unbearable. There is a network of 
lawyers' and over-lookers' business to be got 
through still. I go about the place like a thief, 
and people throw the title in my face like a buffet 
at every turn. And I keep thinking of Amicia ; 
her rooms have the sound of her in them. I went 
down to the lake at sunset and took a pull by 
myself. The noise of the water running off and 
drawing under was like some one that sobs and 
chokes. I went home out of all temper with 
things. And there was a letter waiting from 
Aunt Midhurst that would have made one half 
mad at the best of times. She is right to strike 
if she pleases ; but her sort of talk hits hard. I 
felt hot and sick with the sense of meanness when 
I had done. These things are the worst one 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 165 

has to bear. She tells me what to do ; gives 
news of Amicia that would kill one to think of, 
if thought did kill ; mixes allusions in a way that 
she only could have the heart to do. I believe 
she knows or thinks the worst, and always has. 
And there is nothing one can say in reply to her. 
It is horrid to lie at her mercy as we do. Their 
life in that house must be intolerable. I can 
see Amy sitting silent under her eyes and talk ; 
sick and silent, without crying, like a woman held 
fast and forced to look on while some one else 
was under torture. I know so well by myself how 
she must take the suffering ; with a blind, bruised 
soul, and a sort of painful wonder and pity ; 
divided from herself ; beaten and broken down 
and tired out. If she were to go mad I should 
know why. And I cannot come near her, and 
you know how I love her. I would kill myself 
to save her pain, and I know she is in pain hourly, 
and I sit here where she used to be. If I had 
never been born at all she would have been happy 
enough with her husband alive. I tell you, God 
knows how good she was to him. If only one 
of their people here would insult me, I should be 
thankful. But the place seems to accept me, 
and they tolerate a new face ; I did think some 
one would show vexation or sorrow do or say 



166 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

something by way of showing they remembered. 
I was Quixotic, I suppose, for all the old things 
made way for me. Except the one day when 
Redgie Harewood came over with his father ; 
he did seem to think I had no business here, and 
I never liked him so well. You recollect how 
angry it made you. People ought to remember. 
I was glad he would not stay in the house. That 
was the only time any one has treated me as I 
want to be treated. I shall come and stay with 
you if you will have me. I cannot go about yet, 
and I hate every corner of this house. When 
I ride I do literally feel now and then tempted to 
try and get thrown. Last winter we were all 
here together, and she used to sing at this time in 
this room. The voice and the sound of her dress 
come and go in my hearing. I see her face and 
all her hair glitter and vibrate as she keeps sing- 
ing. Her hands and her throat go up and down, 
and her eyes turn and shine. Then she leaves 
off playing and comes to me, and I cannot see 
her near enough ; but I feel her hands touch me, 
and hear her crying. I can do nothing but 
dream in this way. I want my life and my love 
back. I am wretched enough now, and she 
must be unhappier than I am ; she is so much 
better. Her beautiful tender nature must be a 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 167 

pain to her every day. I suppose she is sorry 
for me. I would die to-day if I could make her 
forget. My dear sister, you must let me write 
to you as I can, and not mind what I say. I 
could not well write to a man now ; and I never 
was friends enough with any one to open out as 
I can to you. I must get strength and sense in 
time, or make an end somehow. I wish to God 
I could give all this away and be rid of things at 
once. 



i68 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XX 

REGINALD HAREWOOD TO LADY CHEYNE 

Plessey, Aug. 24th. 

I WAS over at Lidcombe again last week. Frank 
was to leave to-day for his sister's : the Rad- 
worths have asked him for some time. I am also 
pressed to go, but I hardly like being with him. 
Unfair, I suppose, but reasonable when one thinks 
of it. He is a good deal pulled down, and makes 
very little of his succession : asks after you always, 
and seems rather to cling to company. All the 
legal work is over ; and I hope you will not be 
bothered with any more letters. If you care to 
hear, I may tell you there is some chance of my 
getting to work after all. They want to diplo- 
matize me : I am to have some secretaryship or 
other under Lord Fotherington. If anything 
comes of it I shall leave England next month. I 
shall have Arthur Lunsford for a colleague, and 
one or two other fellows I know about me. A. L. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 169 

was a great swell in our schooldays, and used 
to ride over the heads of us lower boys with spurs 
on. I wonder if Frank remembers what a tre- 
mendous licking he got once for doing Lunsford's 
verses for him without a false quantity, so that 
when they were shown up he was caught out 
and came to awful grief. I don't know if I ever 
believed in anything as I did once in the get-up 
of that fellow. To have him over one again 
will be very comic ; he never could get on without 
fags. Do you think the service admits of his 
licking them ? I suspect he might thrash me 
still if he tried : you know what a splendid big 
fellow he is. Audley says he is attache to Lady F. , 
not to the embassy ; and makes his way by dint 
of his songs and his shoulders. People adore 
a huge musical man. Muscles and music matched 
will help one to bestride the world. Aime ! I 
wish I could buy either of them, cheap. 

Do you remember an old Madame de Roche- 
laurier, who used to claim alliance with you 
through some last-century Cheyne, and was great 
on old histories ? a lank old lady, with a half- 
shaved chin and eyes that our grandmother called 
vulturine old hard eyes, that turned on springs 
in her head without appearing to look ? She 



170 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

has turned up again this year in England, and 
means to marry her daughter to Frank, the Rad- 
worths say. I have seen the daughter, and she 
is admirable ; the most perfect figure, and hair 
like the purple of a heartsease ; her features are 
rather too like a little cat's for me ; she is white 
and supple and soft, and I suppose could sparkle 
and scratch if one rubbed up her fur when the 
weather was getting electric. Clara thinks her 
figure must be an English inheritance : she is 
hardly over seventeen. They do not think Frank 
will take up with her, though C. would push the 
match if she could on his account. You would 
have heard of this from her if I had not written. 
Madame de Rochelaurier is one-third English, 
you know, and avows her wishes in the plainest 
way. She is immense fun, and very bland 
towards me. She gave me one bit of family 
history which I must send you : it seems she had 
it from the great-uncle " homme impayable, et 
dont mon coeur porte tou jours le deuil rapiece." 
(She really said it unprovoked ; Frank is a faded 
replica of his father, in her eyes ; " mais Claire ' 
c'est son portrait vivant fait d'apres Courbet." 
Which I could not make out ; why Courbet ? 
and she would not expound.) Here is the story : 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 171 

The Lady Cheyne of James I.'s time was a great 
beauty, as we know by that portrait the one 
with heaps of full deep-yellow hair, you remember, 
and opals under the throat. It seems also she 
was a proverb for goodness, in spite of having 
to husband that unbeautiful " William, tenth 
Baron," with the gaunt beard and grisly collar 
that bony-cheeked head we always thought the 
ugly one of the lot. That was why they gave 
her the motto " sans reproche " on the frame. She 
had two fellows in love with her the one a Sir 
Edmund Brackley, and the other, one regrets to 
say, the old Reginald Harewood I was christened 
after, who wrote those poems my father keeps 
under key, and will not let the Herbert Society 
have to print. I knew he had a story, and that 
the old miniature of him, with long curls, once 
had some inscription, which my grandfather got 
rubbed out. He was a fastish sort of fellow 
evidently, and rather a trump ; he had some 
tremendous duel at nineteen with a Scot of the 
King's household, and killed his man ; never 
could show his face at Court afterwards. The 
old account was that he lost heart after six months' 
suit, and killed himself for love of her : but the 
truth seems to be this ; that our perfect Lady 



172 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Margaret lost her own head, and fell seriously in 
love with his rhymes and his sword-hand ; and 
one time (this is the Rochelaurier version) let 
him in at a wrong hour. Then, in the late night, 
she went to Lord Cheyne and roused him out 
of sleep, bidding him come now and be judge 
between her and all the world. So he got up and 
followed (in no end of a maze one would think), 
and she brought him to a room where her lover 
was lying asleep with his sword unfastened. Then 
she said, if he believed her good and honest, 
let him strike a stroke for her and kill this fellow. 
And the man held off (you should have heard 
your uncle tell it, Madame de Rochelaurier said ; 
her own old eyes caught fire, and her hand beat 
up and down) ; he stood back and had pity on 
him, for he was so noble to look at, and had such 
a boy's face as he lay sleeping along. But she 
bade him do her right, and that did he, though it 
were with tears. For the lover had hired that 
night a gentlewoman of hers to betray her into 
his hands before it was yet day ; and she had 
just got wind of the device. (But really she 
had let him in herself in the maid's dress, and 
just then left him. " Quelle tfcte ! " Madame 
de Rochelaurier observed.) Then her husband 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 173 

struck him and roused him, and made him 
stand up there and fight, and before the poor 
boy had got his tackling ready, ran him through 
at the first pass under the heart. Then he took 
his wife's hand and made her dip it into the 
wound and sprinkle the blood over his face. And 
the fellow just threw up his eyes and winced as 
she wetted her hand, and said " Farewell, the 
most sweet and bitter thing upon earth," and so 
died. After that she was held in great honour, 
and most of all by her old suitor, Sir Edmund, 
who became friends with her husband till the civil 
war, when they took up separate sides, and 
people believed that Brackley (who was of the 
Parliament party) killed Lord Cheyne at Naseby 
with his own hand. His troopers, at all events, 
did, if he missed. The story goes, too, that 
Cheyne lived to get at the truth about his wife by 
means of her servant, and " never had any great 
joy of his life afterwards." Madame de Roche- 
laurier gave me a little copy of verses sent from 
my namesake " To his most excellent and per- 
fect lady, the Lady Margaret Cheyne " ; she got 
them from our uncle, who had looked up the 
story in some old papers once, on a rainy visit 
at Lidcombe. I copied them for you, thinking it 



174 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

might amuse you when you have time on hand to 
look them over. 



Fair face, fair head, and goodly gentle brows, 
Sweet beyond speech and bitter beyond measure ; 

A thing to make all vile things virtuous, 

Fill fear with force and pain's heart's blood with pleasure ; 

Unto thy love my love takes flight, and flying 

Between thy lips alights and falls to sighing. 

II 

Breathe, and my soul spreads wing upon thy breath ; 

Withhold it, in thy breath's restraint I perish ; 
Sith life indeed is life, and death is death, 

As thou shalt choose to chasten them or cherish ; 
As thou shalt please ; for what is good in these 
Except they fall and flower as thou shalt please ? 

Ill 

Day's eye, spring's forehead, pearl above pearls' price, 
Hide me in thee where sweeter things are hidden, 

Between the rose-roots and the roots of spice, 
Where no man walks but holds his foot forbidden ; 

Where summer snow, in August apple-closes, 

Nor frays the fruit nor ravishes the roses. 

IV 

Yea, life is life, for thou hast life in sight ; 

And death is death, for thou and death are parted. 
I love thee not for love of my delight, 

But for thy praise, to make thee holy-hearted ; 
Praise is love's raiment, love the body of praise, 
The topmost leaf and chaplet of his days. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 175 

V 

I love thee not for love's sake, nor for mine, 
Nor for thy soul's sake merely, nor thy beauty's ; 

But for that honour in me which is thine, 
To make men praise me for my loving duties ; 

Seeing neither death nor earth nor time shall cover 

The soul that lived on love of such a lover. 

VI 

So shall thy praise be more than all it is, 

As thou art tender and of piteous fashion. 
Not that I bid thee stoop to pluck my kiss, 

Too pale a fruit for thy red mouth's compassion ; 
But till love turn my soul's pale cheeks to red, 
Let it not go down to the dusty dead. 

R. H. 

FINIS 

The thing is dated 1625, and he was killed next 
year, being just my age at the time. I do call it 
a shame ; but Madame de Rochelaurier says it 
was worth her while, and would make a good 
story, which one might call " The Cost of a 
Reputation." " C'etait decidement une femme 
forte," she said placidly. That is true, I should 
say, but the presence of mind was rather 
horribly admirable ; she must have had great 
pluck of a certain sort to go straight off to her 
husband and put the thing into his head ; 
no wonder they called her " sans reproche" I 



176 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

should put " sans merci " on the frame if it were 
mine. Those verses of his read oddly by the 
light of the story ; I have rather a weakness for 
that pink and perfumed sort of poem that smells 
of dead spice and preserved leaves ; it reads like 
opening an old jar of pot-pourri, with its stiff 
scented turns of verse and tags of gold em- 
broidery gone tawny in the dust and rust. And 
in spite of all the old court-stuff about apples 
and roses and the rest, there is a kind of serious 
twang in it here and there, as if the man did care 
to mean something. I suppose he didn't mind, 
and liked his life the better on account of her ; 
would have gone on all the same if he had known ; 
fellows do get to be such fools. I don't think I 
should have cared much either. Conceive Ernest 
not liking his wife to talk about it. He found 
the verses in a book of hers, and wanted to burn 
them : then sat down and read Prodgers on 
Pantology, or something in that way, for two 
hours instead, till Madame de Rochelaurier called, 
Clara told me that evening. A treatise on the 
use of fish-bones as manure I think it was. She 
will not take the Rochelaurier view at all, and 
says Lady Margaret ought to have been hanged 
or burnt. As for my forefather, she calls him 
the perfectest knight and fool on record : the 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 177 

sort of man one could have risked being burnt 
for with pleasure. She would have been a noble 
chatelaine in the castle days. One would have 
taken the chance for her sake ; rather. And if 
ever anything were said about her all such 
natures do get ill-used I think and trust you 
for one would stand by her and speak up for her. 
She is too good to let the world be very good to 
her. Tears and brilliant light mixed in her eyes 
when she talked of that bit of story : the beauti- 
fullest pity and anger and passionate compassion. 
She might have kept sans reproche on her shield, 
and never written sans merci on her heart. I 
believe she could do anything great. She wanted 
to be at Naples last year ; would have outdone 
Madame Mario in that splendid labour of hers. 
She says if she were not in mourning already she 
would put on deeper black for Cavour now ; I 
told her not. If she had been born an Italian, 
and had the chance given her, she would have 
gone into battle as gladly as the best men. That 
Venice visit last year set the stamp on it. I 
never saw her so nearly letting tears really fall 
as when she quoted that about the " piteous 
ruinous beauty of all sights in the fair-faced city 
that death and love fought for when it was alive, 
and love was beaten, but comes back always to 

N 



178 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

look at the sweet killed body left there adrift 
between sea and sunset." I am certain Ernest 
wears her out ; the miserable day's work does tell 
upon her, and the nerves and head will fail bit 
by bit if it goes on. Men would trust in her and 
honour her if she were a man ; why cannot 
women as it is ? Whatever comes, she ought to 
look to us at least ; to you and me. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 179 



XXI 

LADY MIDHURST TO MRS. RADWORTH 

Ashton Hildred, Sept. loth. 

I WISH my news were of a better sort ; but I can 
only say, in answer to your nice kind letter, that 
Amicia is in a very bad way indeed. At least, I 
think so ; she has not held up her head for weeks, 
and her face seems to me changing, as some 
unusually absurd poet of your generation has 
observed, " from the lily-leaf to the lily-stem." 
Stalk he might at least have said, but he wanted 
a sort of villainous rhyme to " flame." A letter 
from Reginald the other day put some light and 
colour into her for a minute, but seemed to leave 
her worse than ever when the warmth was taken 
off. Next day she could not come down : I, with 
some conventional brutality, forced a way into 
her room and found her just asleep, her face 
crushed into the wet pillow, with the fever of 
tears on the one cheek uppermost leaden and 
bluish with crying and watching. I tell her that 
to weep herself green is no widow's duty, and 

N 2 



i8o LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

no sign of ripeness ; but she keeps wearing down ; 
is not visibly thinner yet, but must be soon. Her 
eyelids will get limp and her eyelashes ragged at 
this rate ; she speaks with a sort of hard low 
choke in the notes of her voice which is perfectly 
ruinous. Very few things seem to excite her for 
a second ; she can hardly read at all : sits with 
her chin down and eyes half drawn over like a 
sleepy sick child. I should not wonder to see her 
hair beginning to go : she actually looks sharp : 
one might expect her brows and chin to become 
obtrusive in six months' time. Even the rumour 
we hear (not at first hand you know) about a 
Rochelaurier revival did not seem to rouse or 
amuse her. If there is anything in the chatter, 
one can only be glad of such an improvement in 
the second generation ; for I cannot well conceive 
Frank's marrying, or your approving, a new 
edition of Mademoiselle Armande de Castigny. 
Fabien de Rochelaurier was the most victimized, 
unhappiest specimen of a husband I ever saw : 
a Prudhomme-Coquardeau of good company, if 
you can take and will tolerate the Gavarni 
metaphor. The life she led him is unknown ; 
half her exploits, I believe devoutly, never reached 
the light many I suspect never would bear the 
air. You must know what people say of that 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 181 

young M. de Saverny, who goes about with them 
the man you used to get on so well with two years 
ago ? He never turned up during Madame de 
Saverny 's life anywhere and months after the 
poor wretched lady's death his father produces 
this child of four, and takes him about as his 
orphaned heir, and presents him notamment to 
the Rochelauriers, who make an infinite ado about 
the child ever after. Why, at one time he wanted 
to marry the girl himself had played with her 
in childhood plighted troth among budding roses 
chased butterflies together Paul et Virginie, 
nothing less. This was a year ago, just after 
he went back to France, she being barely out of 
her convent. Do you want to know why, and 
how, it was broken off ? Look in the table of 
affinities. 

Of course, if the girl is nice, tant mieux. 
Remembering my dear mother, it is not for me 
to object to a French Lady Cheyne. But a 
Rochelaurier if Rochelaurier it is to be you 
will allow is rather startling. Old M. de Saverny 
is dead, certainly, which is one safeguard, and 
really a thing to be thankful for. He was awful. 
Valfons, Lauzun, Richelieu's own self, hardly 
more compromising. And here the mother tells. 
Unluckily, but so it is. Taking one thing with 



182 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

another into account, though, Philomene might 
get over this well enough. Ce nom tramontain 
et devot m'a tou jours crispe les nerfs. But if 
Frank likes her, well and good. People do not 
always inherit things. Your friend, for instance, 
the amiable Octave, is not very like that exquisite 
and infamous old father. Only I should be 
inclined to take time, and look well about me. 
Here, again, you may be invaluable to the boy. 
By what I remember, I should hardly have 
thought Philomene de Rochelaurier would turn 
out the sort of girl to attract him. Pretty I 
have no doubt she is. Octave I always thought 
unbearable ; that complexion of singed white 
always gives me the notion of a sheet of note- 
paper flung on the fire by mistake, and snatched 
off with the edges charred. Et puis ces yeux de 
lapin. Et cette voix de serin. The blood is 
running out, evidently. M. de Saverny pere 
was great in his best days. They used to say 
last year that Count Sindrakoff had supplanted 
his ghost aupres de la Rochelaurier. She is 
nearly my age. But I believe the Russian was 
a young man of the Directory or thereabouts. I 
am getting horridly scandalous, but Armande 
was always too much for my poor patience. She 
thinks herself one of Balzac's women, and gets 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 183 

up affairs to order. Besides, she always fell 
short of diplomacy through pure natural lack 
of brain ; and yet was always drawing blunt 
arrows to the head, and taking shaky aim 
at some shifting public bull's-eye. I wrote a 
little thing about her some years since, and 
labelled it, " La Femme de Cinquante Ans, 
Etude " ; it got sent to Jules de Versac, who 
touched it up, and put t in the Timon it was 
the best sketch I ever made. I dare say she 
knows I wrote it. It amuses me ineffably to 
find her taking up with Redgie Harewood ; I 
suppose by way of paying indirect court to us. 
I know he has more than the usual boy's weak- 
ness for women twice his age, but surely there 
can be nothing of the sort here ? They seem 
exquisitely confidential by his own innocent 
account. She always did like lamb and veal. 
The daughter must be too young for him. A 
woman with natural red and without natural 
grey is no doubt not yet worth his looking at 
that is, unless there were circumstances which 
made it wrong and unsafe but I speak of serious 
things. I thought at one time he was sure to 
upset all kinds of women with that curious 
personal beauty of his, as his poor sister used to 
upset men ; he is such a splendid boy to look at, 



184 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

as to face ; but now I see his lot in life lies the 
other way, and he will always be the footstool 
and spindle of any woman who may choose to 
have him. Less mischief will come of him that 
way, which is consoling to remember. Indeed, 
I doubt now if he ever will do any ; but if he 
gets over thirty without some damage to himself 
I shall be only too thankful. Really, I think, in 
default of better, I would rather see him than 
Frank married to Mademoiselle de Rochelaurier. 
Lord Cheyne has time and room to beat about in, 
and choose from right or left. Now Redgie, I 
begin to believe, will have to marry before long. 
It would be something to keep him out of 
absurdities. We know too well what a head it 
is when any windmill is set spinning inside it. 
And, without irony, I am convinced Madame 
de Rochelaurier must have a real kindly feel- 
ing about him. She was out of her depth in 
love with your father in 1825, and Redgie now 
and then reminds me a little of him ; Frank is 
placider, and not quite such a handsome fellow as 
my brother used to be. It is so like her to come 
out with old family histories and relics as the best 
means of astonishing the boy's weak mind ; but 
I did not know she had still any actual and 
tangible memorials of the time by her. I have 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 185 

been trying to recollect the date of her daughter's 
birth ; she was extant in '46, for I saw her in 
Paris, a lean child in the rose blonde line. Three, 
I should think, at the time, or perhaps five a 
good ten years younger than Octave de Saverny. 
Redgie's three or four years over would just tell 
in the right way Frank I should call too young. 
I want you to tell me honestly how you look at 
it. To me it seems he might brush about the 
world a little more before he begins marrying. 
Only this instant come of age, you know. The 
attachment might be a good thing enough for 
him. Mademoiselle Philomene I suppose must 
be clever ; there is no reason to presume she can 
have inherited the poor old vicomte's flaccidity 
of head and tongue. Very spiritually Catholic, 
and excitable on general matters, the girl ought to 
be by this time ; Armande, I remember, was a tre- 
mendous legitimist (curious for her) of late years, 
and has doubtless undertaken to convert Regi- 
nald to sane views, and weed out his heresies and 
democracies. I should like to see and hear the 
process. ^ Since the empire came in I believe she 
has put lilies on her carpets, and rallied her crew 
round the old standard with a will. Henri V. 
must be truly thankful for her. Desloches, the 
religious journalist, was one of her converts 



i86 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

the man whom Sindrakoff, with hyperborean 
breadth of speech, once indicated to me as a 
cochon manque. Ever since the Legende des 
Siecles came out / have called him Sultan Mourad's 
pig. One might suggest as a motto for his paper 
that line, 

Le pourceau miserable et Dieu se regarderent. 

Edmond Ramel made me a delicious sketch of 
the subject, with Armande de Rochelaurier, in 
sultanic apparel and with a beard beyond all 
price or praise, flapping the flies off, her victims 
(social and otherwise) strewing the background. 
On apercevait en haut, parmi des etoiles, le bon 
Dieu qui larmoyait, tout en s'essuyant Poeil 
gauche d'un mouchoir azure, au coin duquel on 
voyait brode le chiffre du journal de Desloches, 
numero cent. Cette figure beate avait les traits 
devinez du pauvre vieux vicomte Fabien. Je 
n'ai jamais ri de si bon cceur. Que Victor 
Hugo me pardonne ! 

As I suppose nobody thinks just' yet of 
betrothals or such like, I want to hear what you 
think of doing for the next month or so. It is 
a pity to leave Lidcombe bare and void all the 
autumn weeks. The place is splendid then, with 
a sad and noble sort of beauty in all the corners 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 187 

of it. Such hills and fields, as Redgie neatly 
expressed himself in that last remarkable lyric 
of his, " shaken and sounded through by the 
trumpets of the sea." The Hadleigh sands are 
worth seeing about the equinox ; only, Heaven 
knows, we have all had sight enough of the sea 
for one year. Still, Frank ought to be about 
the place now and then, or they will never grow 
together properly. Why can you not go down 
together, and set up house in a quiet sisterly 
fashion for a little ? he has hardly stayed there 
ten days in all since the spring. After living 
more than six weeks with you, except that little 
Lidcombe interlude at the end of July and those 
few days in London, it is his turn to play host. 
Or, if any sort of feeling stands in the way of it ; 
why not go to Lord Charnworth's, as you did last 
year ? If there is anything sound in the Roche- 
laurier business, it will grow all the better for a 
little separation I am sure I for one would not 
for worlds mettre des batons dans les roues. 
But if it is a mere bit of intrigue on the mother's 
part (and I can hardly believe Armande a trust- 
worthy person), surely it is better cut loose at 
once, and let drift. I shall try and see Philomene 
this winter, whether they return or stay. The 
Charnworths are perfect people, and will be only 



i88 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

too glad of you all. A cousin's death is no 
absolute reason for going into a modern Thebaid, 
nice as he was. And I hardly suppose you still 
retain your old preference of Octave de Saverny 
to Lord Charnworth in the days before the latter 
poor man married entirely, I have always 
believed, a result of your early cruelty. Now, if 
you stay at home and keep up, in or out of 
London, the intimacy that seems to be getting 
renewed, I predict you will have the whole 
maison Rochelaurier et C ie upon your hands at 
Blocksham before you know where to turn. 
Science will be blown up heaven-high, and Mr. 
Radworth will commit suicide. 

I am getting too terrible in my anticipations, 
and must come to a halt before all my colours 
have run to black. Besides, our doctor has just 
left, and the post begins to clamour for its prey. 
He gives us very singular auguries about his 
patient. For my own part, I must say I had 
begun to have a certain dim prevision in the 
quarter to which he seems to point. At all 
events, it appears she is in no present danger, 
and we must not press the doubt. I trust you 
not to intimate the least hope or fear of such a 
thing happening, and only refer to it here to 
relieve the anxious feeling I might have given 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 189 

you by the tone of my first sentences. It would 
be unpardonable to excite uneasiness or pity to 
no purpose. False alarms, especially in the 
posthumous way, are never things to be excused 
on any hand. You can just let Frank know that 
we none of us apprehend any actual risk : which 
is more than I, at least, would have said a month 
since. She is miserably reticent and depressed. 
I must end now, with all loves, as people used 
to say ages ago. Take good care of them all, 
and still better care of yourself on many 
accounts and think in the kindest way you 
can of 

Yours most affectionately, 

H. MIDHURST. 



LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XXII 

CAPTAIN HARE WOOD TO REGINALD 

Plessey, Oct. 22nd. 

MY DEAR REGINALD : 

You will at once begin preparing for your work, 
unless you wish to throw this chance too over, 
and incur my still more serious displeasure. 
That is all the answer I shall make you. You 
must be very well aware that for years back you 
have disgracefully disappointed me in every 
hope and every plan I have formed with regard 
to you. Of your school and college career I 
shall have a few words to say presently. It is 
against my expressed wish and expectation that 
you are now in London instead of being here 
under my eye : and even after all past experience 
of your utter disregard of discipline and duty, I 
cannot but feel surprise at your present proposal. 
If you do visit the Radworths before returning 
home, you will do so in direct defiance of my 
desire. That course, understand, is distinctly 
forbidden you. After our last interview on the 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 191 

subject I can only consider the very suggestion 
as an act of an insolent and rebellious nature. 
I know the construction to which your conduct 
towards your cousin has not unnaturally exposed 
you ; and you know that I know it. Upon her 
and upon yourself your inexcusable and puerile 
behaviour has already drawn down remark and 
reproach. I am resolved, and I intend that 
you shall remember I am, to put an end to this. 
I have come upon a letter from your grand- 
mother, dated some time back I think before 
the miserable catastrophe in which you were 
mixed up at Portsmouth bearing immediately 
in every line upon this affair : and I have read it 
with attention. Secrets of that kind you have 
no right to have or to keep ; and I have every 
right and reason to investigate them. Another 
time, if you intend to pursue a furtive line of 
action, you will do well to make it a more cautious 
one : the letter I speak of was left actually under 
my hand, not so much as put away among other 
papers. Upon the style of Lady Midhurst's 
address to you I shall not here remark ; but you 
must expect, I should think, to hear that my 
view of such things is far enough from being the 
same as hers. Rightly or wrongly, I consider 
the sort of relationship she appears to contem- 



IQ2 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

plate in that letter as at once criminal and con- 
temptible : and I cannot pretend to observe it 
with indifference or toleration. You seem to 
me to have written and acted childishly indeed, 
but not the less sinfully. However, I am not 
now about to preach to you. The One safeguard 
against natural evil and antidote to natural 
unwisdom you have long been encouraged to 
neglect and overlook. All restrictions placed 
around you by the care of others and of myself 
you have even thus early chosen to discard. It 
is poor comfort to reflect that, as far as I know, 
you have not as yet fallen into the more open 
and gross vices which many miserable young 
fools think it almost laudable to indulge in. This 
can but be at best the working of a providential 
accident, not the outcome of any real self-denial 
or rnanly self-restraint on your part. Without 
this I count all fortuitous abstinence from sin 
worth very little. In a wiser eye than man's 
many a seemingly worse character may be purer 
than yours. From childhood upwards, I must 
once for all remind you, you have thwarted my 
wishes and betrayed my trust. Prayer, discipline, 
confidence, restraint, hourly vigilance, untiring 
attention, one after another, failed to work upon 
you. Affectionate enough by nature, and with 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 193 

no visibly vicious tendencies, but unstable, 
luxurious, passionate, and indolent, you set at 
naught all guidance, and never in your life would 
let the simple noble sense of duty take hold of 
you. At school you were incessantly under 
punishment ; at home you were constantly in 
disgrace. Pain and degradation could not keep 
you right ; to disgrace the most frequent, to pain 
the most severe, you opposed a deadly strength 
of sloth and tacit vigour of rebellion. So your 
boyhood passed ; I have yet in my ear the 
remark of one of your tutors " Severity can do 
little for the boy ; indulgence, nothing." What 
the upshot of your college career was you must 
remember only too well, and I still hope not 
without some regret and shame. Absolute inert 
idleness and wilful vanity, after a long course of 
violated discipline in small matters, brought you 
in time to the dishonourable failure you had 
been at no pains to avoid. 

And yet you know well enough whether or 
no I have done and purpose, even yet, to do all 
for you that I can ; whether I have not always 
been but too ready to palliate and indulge ; 
whether, from the very first, the utmost, 
tenderest allowance has not been made for you, 
and the least possible share of your own faults 

o 



194 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

laid to your own charge. This, I say, you do, 
in your conscience and heart, know, and must 
needs bear me witness to the truth of it. I 
must confess I have not now much hope left. 
Little comfort and little pleasure have you ever 
given me, and I expect to get less and less from 
you as our lives go on. One thing, though, I 
can, at worst, be sure of : that my own duty 
shall be done. As long as I can hold them at all, 
I will not throw the reins upon your neck. I will 
not, while I can help it, allow you to speak, to 
act, if possible to think, in a way likely to injure 
others. I desire you not to go to the house of 
a man whom I know you profess, out of your 
own inordinate impertinence and folly, to dislike 
and contemn ; I trust you, at least, as a gentle- 
man, to respect my opinion and my confidence, 
if I cannot count on your obedience as my son ; 
on these grounds I do believe and expect you will 
not visit Blocksham. Mr. Ernest Radworth is 
a man infinitely your superior in every way. 
For many years he has led a most pure, laborious, 
and earnest life. The truly great and genuine 
talents accorded to him at his birth he has 
submitted to the most conscientious culture, 
and turned to the utmost possible advantage. 
To himself he has been consistently and admirably 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 195 

true ; to others I believe he has invariably been 
most helpful, beneficent, exemplary in all his 
dealings. By one simple process of life he has 
kept himself pure and made all near him happy. 
From first to last he was the stay and pride of 
his family ; and since he has been left alone in 
his father's place he has nobly kept up the 
distinction which, in earliest youth, and even 
boyhood, he very deservedly acquired. A fit 
colleague and a fit successor, this one, (as you 
would acknowledge if you were capable of seeing) 
for the greatest labourers in the field of English 
science. Excellent and admirable in all things, 
he is in none more worthy of respect than in his 
private and domestic relations. There is not a 
man living for whom I entertain a more heartfelt 
regard I had well nigh said reverence than 
for Mr. Radworth. I verily believe he has not 
a thing, humanly speaking, to be ashamed of in 
looking back upon his past life. Every hour, so 
to say, has had its share of noble toil and, 
therefore, also its share of immediate reward. 
For these men work for the world's sake, not for 
their own : and from the world, not from them- 
selves, they do in time receive their full wages. 
There is no more unsullied and unselfish glory on 
earth than that of the faithful and reverent 

02 



196 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

scientific workman : and to such one can always 
reasonably hope that the one thing which may 
perhaps be wanting will in due time be supplied. 
The contempt or disrelish of a young, idle, far 
from noteworthy man for such a character as 
that of Ernest Radworth is simply a ludicrous 
and deplorable phenomenon. You are incom- 
petent to appreciate for one moment even a 
tenth part of his excellence. But I am resolved 
you shall make no unworthy use of a friendship 
you are incapable of deserving. Of your cousin 
I will here say only that I trust she may in time 
learn fully to apprehend the value of such a 
heart and such a mind. By no other path than 
this of both repentant and retrospective humility 
can she ever hope to attain real happiness or 
honour. I should, for Ernest's sake, truly regret 
being compelled to adopt Lady Midhurst's 
sufficiently apparent opinion that she is not 
worthy to perceive and decide on such a path. 

You now know my desire ; and I do not 
choose to add any further appeal. Expecting, 
for the sake at least of your own immediate 
prospects, that you will follow it, 

I remain your anxious and affectionate father, 

PHILIP HAREWOOD. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 197 



XXIII 

FRANCIS CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH 

Lidcombe, Nov. I3th. 

I HAVE just read your letter. Come by all means 
next month, and stay as long as you can. Every 
day spent here by myself is a heavier and more 
subtle irritation to me than the one before. 
Reginald will come for a few days, at least ; his 
foreign outlook seems to have fallen back into 
vapour and remote chance. The Captain was 
over here lately, looking pinched and hard a 
head to make children recoil and wince at the 
sight of it. He is still of great help to me. As 
to Madame de Rochelaurier, to be quite open, I 
had rather not meet her just now ; so you will 
not look for me before the day they leave you. 
Afterwards I may come over to escort you and 
Ernest, if it turns out worth while. Anything 
to get about a little, without going out of reach. 
News, I suppose, must come from Ashton Hildred 
before very long. At such a time I have no 
heart to spare for thinking over plans or people. 



I 9 8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

Your praise of Mademoiselle de Rochelaurier is, 
of course, all right and just. She is a very jolly 
sort of girl, and sufficiently handsome ; and if 
Redgie does marry her I shall just stop short of 
envying him. Does Madame really want me to 
take such a gift at her hand ? Well and good ; 
it is incomparably obliging ; but then, when I am 
looking at Mademoiselle Philomene, and letting 
myself go to the sound of her voice like a song 
to the tune, unhappily there gets up between us 
such an invincible exquisite memory of a face 
ten times more beautiful and loveable to have in 
sight of one ; pale when I saw it last, as if drawn 
down by its hair, heavily weighted about the 
eyes with a presage of tears, sealed with sorrow, 
and piteous with an infinite unaccomplished 
desire. The old deep-gold hair and luminous 
grey-green eyes shot through with colours of sea- 
water in sunlight, and threaded with faint keen 
lines of fire and light about the pupil, beat for 
me the blue-black of Mademoiselle de Roche- 
laurier's. Then that mouth of hers and the 
shadow made almost on the chin by the underlip 
such sad perfect lips, full of tender power 
and faith, and her wonderful way of lifting and 
dropping her face imperceptibly, flower-fashion, 
when she begins or leaves off speaking ; I shall 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 199 

never hear such a voice in the world, either. 
I cannot, and need not now, pretend to dissemble 
or soften down what I feel about her. I do love 
her with all my heart and might. And now that, 
after happy years, she is fallen miserable and ill, 
dangerously ill, for aught I know, and incurably 
miserable who can say ? it is not possible for 
me, sitting here in her house that I have had to 
drive her out of, to think very much of anything 
else, or to think at all of any other woman in the 
way of liking. This is mere bare truth, not 
sentiment or excited fancy by any means, and 
you will not take it for such a sort of thing. If 
I can never marry the one woman perfectly 
pleasant to me and faultlessly fit for me in the 
whole beautiful nature of her, I will never insult 
her and my own heart by marrying at all. Aunt 
Midhurst's view of the Rochelaurier family has 
no great weight with me ; but I have a little 
hope now, after reading what she says to you, 
that, as she is clearly set against the chance of 
any other marriage for me, she may, perhaps, be 
some day brought to think of the one desire of 
my whole life as a possible thing to fulfil. Even 
to you I dare not well hint at such a hope as 
that ; but you must now understand for good 
how things are with me ; if not that, then nothing. 



200 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

You take her reference to Redgie Harewood to be 
a feint, and meant spitefully. I think not ; she 
has the passion of intrigue and management 
still strong ; likes nothing so well, evidently, as 
the sense of power to make and break matches, 
build schemes and overset them. I should like 
to see Harewood married, and peace again at 
Plessey ; he is not a bad fellow ; and she was 
always fond of him. I will say he earned that 
at Portsmouth, but I hate to hear of his being 
able to write to her now, and then see and think 
how much there is between us to get over. If I 
could get at her by any way possible, I could 
keep her up still but I can hardly see how he is 
to help her much. Then, again, if he were to 
marry, they might see each other ; and in no 
end of ways it would be a good thing for him. 
His idolatry is becoming a bore, if not worse ; 
you should find him an ideal to draw his worship 
off you a little. I know so well now how miserable 
it is to feel on a sudden the thing turn serious, 
and have to fight it before one has time to see 
how. If it were fair to tell you all I have had to 
remember and regret only since this year began, 
and only because I knew how, after Cheyne's 
death, her gentle goodness would make her 
wretched at the thought of past discontent with 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 201 

him and Heaven knows she could not but have 
felt him to be less than she was ; and perfect she 
was to him always. I wish people would blame 
her to me, and let me fight them. I can't fight 
her for blaming herself. I write the awfullest 
stuff, because I am really past writing at all. 
If I could fall to work and forget, leave off 
thinking for good, turn brute, it would be only 
rational for me. |I, who have helped to hurt 
her, and would have set myself against the 
world to spare her, what do you conceive she 
thinks of rne ? This air that has nothing of 
her left it chafes me to breathe. I know how 
sometimes somewhere she remembers and misses 
things that she had got used to little chance 
things that were about her in her husband's 
time. A book or two of hers were left ; you 
will see them when you come ; I cannot write, 
and cannot send them without a word. I 
am more thoroughly afraid of hearing from 
Lady M. again than I ever was of anything on 
earth no child could dread any torture as I do 
that. It is quite clear, you know, that they 
expect a confinement in some months' time, 
perhaps. God knows I wish there had been a 
son ! Only they will not say it ; so I must stay 
here and take my trouble. It does not startle 



202 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

me ; nothing can well be worse for me or better 
than it is now. There is no such pleasure to be 
had out of my name or house that I need want 
to fight for it or hold to it. I do hope they will 
make things good to her. You need hardly 
express anger about the poor aunt. Those two 
are her children, and she always rather hated us 
for their sakes. Indeed, as about Reginald, I 
am not sure she is so far out of the way. You 
must see that Ernest flinches now and then 
when he is talked of ; and, without any fear of 
scandal, one may want to avoid the look of it. 
He is not the sort of fellow to be sure of ; not 
thajt he is a bad sort. Enfin (as she says), you 
know what it means Ernest is not great in the 
way of company, and Redgie and you are just 
good friends ; the woman is not really fool enough 
to think evil, though she is rather of the vulturine 
order as to beak and diet. For the rest, I know 
how wise and kind you are it is a shame to 
lean on you as I do, but you are safe to come to. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 203 



XXIV 

LADY CHEYNE TO MRS. RADWORTH 

Ashton Hildred, Nov. 22nd. 

MY DEAR CLARA : 

I HAVE got leave to write and thank you. Nothing 
has made me so happy for a long time as to know 
how kind you have been, and that you are still 
such good friends with me. It was no want of 
thankfulness to you that made me leave Ports- 
mouth in that horrid way to get home here. I 
knew how good you had been, and you are not to 
make me out too bad. To hear from you, even 
such a little word, was nicer than to get the 
things you sent. But I was as glad as I could 
be to have some of them back. I would never 
have let any one send for them to Lidcombe, so 
it was all the kinder of you to do it this way. I 
hope you will all be well there, and quite happy 
while you stay. It is nice to think of people 
about the poor house. They are all bent on 
making me out ill. I am not ill in the least ; 
only faint now and then, and always very tired. 



204 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

I am terribly tired now all my life through, 
awake and asleep. I feel as if there was nothing 
nice to think of in the world, and as if it were 
easier to begin crying than thinking. It is only 
because I am foolish naturally and afraid to 
face things. If people were less good to me I 
should be just as afraid to feel at all, or at least 
to say I did. But good as they are now, my 
own nearest friends here could not have been 
better to me than / know you were then writing 
letters and nursing and saving me all sorts of 
wretched things. You were as good as Reginald, 
and I had only you two to help me through, but 
you did all that could be done, both of you, and 
I knew you did. When I am most tired and 
would like to let go of everything else, I try to 
hold on to my remembrance of that. If I had 
not been a little worthy to be pitied, I hope now 
and then you would not have been quite so good. 
I am sorrier than I can say to hear how 
foolish you think him. Ever since that I have 
thought of you two together. You say it so 
kindly, too, that it is wretched to hear said. I 
do hope it is only his silly candid habit of showing 
things he feels and thinks he always thought 
about you so much and in such an excited way. 
You are so much beyond me, and except us 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 205 

two he never had any close ally among his own 
relations ; there are hardly any other women, 
you know. If I had been like you it would 
have been different ; but so few people will take 
him at his best, poor boy, and I am so little use, 
though he is fond of me. 

I had got a sort of hint from my grand- 
mother which broke the surprise of the news 
you send me. I hope, as you seem to wish for 
it, that Mademoiselle de Rochelaurier and your 
brother may have all things turn out as they 
would like ; and I shall be as happy as possible 
to know they do. It is not the least a painful 
hearing to me that there will be a wedding at 
the right time. I am only too glad there should 
be some one there, and I am sure, if you both 
are so fond of her, she must be perfectly nice. 
Tell me when to congratulate. I wish I had 
ever seen her ; nobody here knows at all what 
she is like. But I seem to have heard people 
say her mother is not pretty. 

They will not let me write any more my pen 
is to be dragged off if I try. And really there 
is this much reason in it, that I am most stupidly 
tired, and see myself opposite too hideous to 
speak of. I feel as if I were running down ; but 
I don't mean to run out for some time yet. So 



206 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

don't let there be any one put out on such a 
foolish account as that. I hope Mr. Radworth's 
head and eyes keep better ; they are of rather 
more value than mine, and I am always sorry to 
hear of his going back in health. My love to 
Redgie, and try to make him good. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 207 



XXV 

REGINALD HAREWOOD TO EDWARD AUDLEY 

Lidcombe, Dec. I5th. 

I AM not coming out at all. I can't now ; the 
whole concern is blown up. I have had a most 
awful row with my father ; you know the sort of 
way he always does write and talk ; and two 
months ago he gave me the most incredible 
blowing up I suppose no fellow ever got such a 
letter. So I just dropped into him by return of 
post, and let the whole thing lie over. He chose 
to pitch into her too, in the most offensive way. 
Now I'm not going to behave like a sneak to 
her because she is too good for them. She 
trusts me in the most beautiful way. I would 
give up the whole earth for her. Frank would 
have made an end of that fellow long ago if he 
had the right sort of pluck. And you see a man 
can't let himself be bullied into skulking. It's 
all fair chaffing about it if you please, but you 
don't in the least know what the real thing is 
like. Here she is tied down and obliged to let 



208 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

that sort of animal talk to her, and go about 
with her, and take her by the hand or arm I 
tell you I have seen it. It was like seeing a 
stone thrown at her. And she speaks to him 
without wincing. I do think the courage of 
women is something unknown. I should run 
twenty times a day if I couldn't fight. He 
brings her specimens of things. You can't con- 
ceive what a voice and face and manner the 
fellow has. She lets him talk about his symptoms. 
He tells me he wishes he could eat what I can. 
It would be all very well if he had anything great 
about him. I suppose women can put up with 
men that have ; but a mere ingenious laborious 
pedant and prig, and a fellow that has hardly 
human ways, imagine worshipping that ! I 
believe he is a clever sort of half-breed between 
ape and beaver. But the sort of thing cannot 
go on. I found her yesterday by herself in the 
library here, looking out references for him. 
The man was by way of being ill upstairs. She 
spoke to me with a sort of sad laugh in her eyes, 
not smiling ; and her brows winced, as they 
never do for him, whatever he says. She is so 
gentle and perfect when he is there ; and I feel 
like getting mad. Well, somehow I let her see 
I knew what an infernal shame it was, and she 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 209 

said wives '"were meant for the work. Then I 
began and told her she had no sort of right to 
take it in that way, and she couldn't expect any 
fellow to stand and look on while such things 
were and I would as soon have looked on at 
Haynau any day. I dare say I talked no end of 
folly, but I was regularly off my head. Unless 
she throws me over I will never give her up. She 
never will let her brother know how things are 
with her. But to see him sit by her ought to 
be enough for a man with eyes and a heart. I 
know you were a good deal in love last year, 
but Miss Charn worth couldn't have put anybody 
into such a tender fever of pity as this one puts 
me ; you can't be sorry for her ; and I don't think 
you can absolutely worship anything you are 
not a little sorry for. To have to pity what is 
such a way above you, no one could stand that. 
It gives one the wish to be hurt for her. I think 
I should let him insult me and strike me if she 
wanted it. Nothing hurts me now but the look 
of her. She has sweet heavy eyes, like an 
angel's in some great strange pain ; eyes without 
fear or fault in them, which look out over coming 
tears that never come. There is a sort of look 
about her lips and under the eyelids as if some 
sorrow had pressed there with his ringer, out of 

P 



2io LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

love for her beauty, and left the mark. I believe 
she knew I wanted her to come away. If there 
were only somewhere to take her to and hide 
her, and let her live in her own way, out of all 
their sight and reach, that would do for me. I 
tell you, she took my hands sadly into hers and 
never said a word, but looked sideways at the 
floor, and gave a little beginning kind of sigh 
twice ; and I got mad. I don't know how I 
prayed to her to come then. But she turned on 
me with her face trembling and shining, and eyes 
that looked wet without crying, and made me 
stop. Then she took the books and went out, 
and up to him. Do you imagine I can be off and 
on, or play tricks with my love, for such a woman 
as that ? Because of my father, perhaps, or 
Ernest Radworth ? She has a throat like pearl- 
colour, with flower-colour over that ; and a smell 
of blossom and honey in her hair. No one on 
earth is so infinitely good as she is. Her fingers 
leave a taste of violets on the lips. She is greater 
in her mind and spirit than men with great 
names. Only she never lets her greatness of 
heart out in words. I don't think now that 
her eyes are hazel. She has in her the royal 
scornful secret of a great silence. Her hair and 
eyelashes change colour in the sun. I shall never 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 211 

come to know all she thinks of. I believe she is 
doing good somewhere with her thoughts. She 
is a great angel, and has charge of souls. She 
has clear thick eyebrows that grow well down, 
coming full upon the upper lid, with no gap such 
as there is above some women's eyes before you 
come to the brow. They have an inexplicable 
beauty of meaning in them, and the shape of the 
arch of them looks tender. She has charge of 
me for one. I must have been a beast or a fool 
if there had not been such a face as that in the 
world. She has the texture and colour of rose- 
leaves crushed deep into the palms of her hands. 
She can forgive and understand and be angry at 
the right time : things that women never can do. 
You know Lady Midhurst is set dead against her, 
and full of the most infernal prejudice. The 
best of them are cruel and dull about each other. 
I let out at her (Lady M., that is), one day when 
we spoke of it, and she stopped me. " She is 
always very good to you," she said ; which is 
true enough. ' You and your sister are her 
children, and she always rather hated Frank and 
me for your sakes. I like her none the worse, 
for my part. I don't know that she is so far 
wrong about you. Once I could have wanted 
her to like me, but we must put up with peopl 






212 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

deficiencies. It is very unreasonable, of course, 
but she does not like me in the least, I quite 
know " : and the way she smiled over this no 
one could understand without knowing her. 
" Only there is one thing to be sorry about : that 
hard pointed way of handling things leaves her 
with the habit of laughter that shrinks up the 
heart she has by inches." Those words stuck to 
me. " If she believed or felt more than she 
does, her cleverness and kindness would work 
so much better. As it is, one can never go to 
her for warmth or rest ; and one cannot live on 
the sharp points of phrases. She has edges in 
her eyes, and thorns in her words. That per- 
petual sardonic patience which sits remarking on 
right and wrong with cold folded hands and 
equable observant eyes, half contemptuous in an 
artistic way of those who choose either that 
cruel tolerance and unmerciful compassion for 
good and bad that long tacit inspection, as of 
a dilettante cynic bidden report critically on the 
creatures in the world, that custom of choosing 
her point of view where she can see the hard side 
of things glitter and the hard side of characters 
refract light in her eyes, till she comes (if one 
>t say so) to patronize God by dint of despising 
^ oh, it gets horrid after a time ! It takes 




A YEAR'S LETTERS 213 

the heart out of all great work. Her world 
would stifle the Garibaldis. It is all dust and 
sand, jewels and iron, dead metal and stone, and 
dry sunshine : like some fearful rich no-man's 
land. I could as soon read the ' Chartreuse de 
Parme ' as listen to her talk long ; it is Stendhal 
diluted and transmuted ; and I never could read 
cynicism." You see how her thoughts get hold 
of one ; I was reminded of her first words, and 
the whole thing came back on me. She said just 
that ; I know the turn of her eyes and head as 
she spoke, and how her cheeks and neck quivered 
here and there. Then she made all excuses, the 
gentlest wise allowances ; you see what a mind 
and spirit she has. She keeps always splendid 
and right. She can understand unkindness to 
herself, you see ; never dreaming that nothing 
can be so unnatural as that ; but not a dry 
ignoble tone of heart and narrow hardness of 
eye. Not to love greatness and abhor baseness, 
each for its own sake that is the sort of thing 
she finds unforgivable and incomprehensible. 
She would make all things that are not evil and 
have not to be gone right at and fought with till 
they give in brave and just, full of the beauty of 
goodness and a noble liberty : all men fit men to 
honour, and all women fit women to adore. 



214 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

That is what she is. Only if I were to write 
for ever, and find you in heavy reading for 
centuries, I should never get to express a thing 
about her. Fancy any one talking about that 
little Rochelaurier girl. She does, and to me, or 
did till I made her see it was no use, and I didn't 
like it as chaff. Philomene is a good pretty 
child, and as to heart and mind believes in Pius 
Iscariot and the vermin run to earth this year 
at Gaeta. They think my father might put up 
with that. He used to admire the men of 
December till they did something to frighten the 
ruminant British bull at his fodder, and set that 
sweet animal lowing and thrusting out volunteer 
bayonets, by way of horns, in brute self-defence. 
I remember well how he spoke once of the Beau- 
harnais to me, d propos of my reading the Chdti- 
ments one vacation. It was before you went 
down, I think, that we had a motion up about that 
pickpocket . My father believes in the society that 
was saved ; he holds tight to the salyation-by- 
damnation theory. " A strong man and born 
master " all that style of thing, you know. 
Liberty means cheese to one's bread, then 
honey, then turtle-fat. Libre a vous, MM. les 
doctrinaires ! What infinite idiocy and supreme 
imbecility to get hanged, burnt, crucified, for 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 215 

one's cause ! You want proof you are a fool ? 
you are beaten ; all's said. The smoke of the 
martyr's pile is the refutation of the martyr in 
the nostrils of a pig. And when people have 
ideas like that, and act on them, how can one 
expect them to see the simplest things rightly ? 
How should they know a great spirit or noble 
intellect from a base little one ? Souls don't 
carry badges for such people to know them by ; 
and whatever does not walk in uniform or livery 
they cannot take into account. As to me, and I 
suppose all men who are not spoilt or fallen 
stolid are much the same, when I see a great 
goodness I know it when I meet my betters I 
want to worship them at once, and I can always 
tell when any one is born my better. When I 
fall in with a nature and powers above me, I 
cannot help going down before it. I do like 
admiring ; service of one's masters must be 
good for one, it is so perfectly pleasant. Then, 
too, one can never go wrong on this tack. I feel 
my betters in my blood ; they send a heat and 
sting all through one at first sight. And the 
delight of feeling small and giving in when one 
does get sight of them is beyond words it seems 
to me all the same whether they beat one in 
wisdom and great gifts and power, or in having 



216 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

been splendid soldiers or great exiles, or just in 
being beautiful. It is just as reasonable to 
worship one sort as the other ; they are all one's 
betters, and were made for one to come down on 
one's knees to, clearly enough. Victor Hugo or 
Miss Cherbury the actress, Tennyson or a fellow 
who rode in the Balaklava charge when you and 
I were in the fifth form, we must knock under 
and be thankful for having them over our heads 
somewhere in the world ; and small thanks to 
us. But when men who are by no means our 
betters won't do so much as this, and want to 
walk into us for doing it, I don't see at all that 
one is bound to stand that. So that if I am ever 
to be turned out of my way, it won't be by any- 
thing my father may say or do. 

I suspect you repent of writing and reading 
by this time ; but please remember how you did 
go into me last year about Eleanor ; and you 
know by this time there was not so much even 
for a fellow in love to say about her. 
Yours always, 

R. E. HAREWOOD. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 217 



XXVI 

LADY CHEYNE TO REGINALD HAREWOOD 

Ashton Hildred, Jan. I4th, 1862. 

MY DEAREST REGINALD : 

I AM writing to-day instead of our grandmother. 
She is very unwell, and wants you to hear from 
us. They will not let her trouble or exert herself 
in any way, but she is bent on your getting a 
word ; so, as I am well enough to write, I must 
take her place. I am afraid she is upset on your 
account. I think she has even exchanged letters 
with your father about it. They seem to fear 
something very bad for you. You know by this 
time how much we both love you, and ought to 
care a little for us. I know I must not talk now 
as if I could fall back on self-esteem or self- 
reliance. I don't the least want to appeal in that 
style, but just to plead with you as well as I 
may. I am stupid enough, too, and can't put 
things well ; only, except the people here at 
home, you are the one person left me that I 



2i8 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

may let myself love. I am very grateful to you, 
and I beg you to let me come in this way to you. 
You must see that there is nobody now that I 
love as well. I want you to remember as I do 
how good you were once. If I am ill it comes of 
miserable thought. You talk of her compassionate 
noble nature. Dearest, if she has any mercy, let 
her show it and save you. It is cruel to make 
people play with poison in this way. I would 
not blame her for worlds. I want to thank her 
and keep good friends, but she must not let you 
run to ruin. Think what imaginable good end 
can there be to this ? I suppose she is infinitely 
clever and brave, as you say, but how can she 
face things for you ? Every one would say the 
horridest things. Do you want shame for her ? 
It would break your life up at the beginning. I 
have no right to accuse should have none any- 
how but one has always a right to be sorry. I 
see you could not be happy even if all were given 
up on both sides. Don't let her give all up. I 
dare say she might ; and that of course is braver 
than any treason. If you knew my own great 
misery ! Sometimes I feel the whole air hot 
about me ; I should like to cry and moan out 
loud, or beat myself. I am not old, and if I 
live all my time out I shall never feel as if my 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 219 

face had a natural look. I wish I were very 
old, and gone foolish. I was false in every word 
and thought I had. I cannot kill myself, you 
see, even by writing it down. Thinking of it 
only hurts, without doing harm ; I want to be 
done harm to. I never spoke to you at Ports- 
mouth. If you never did know, you see now. 
I thought you all knew. I seemed to myself to 
have the eyes of a woman who has been cheating 
and lying to some one just dead. I was penitent 
enough to have had the mark on me. It would 
be better than playing false, to leave her husband. 
But then she takes you your life and all. I do 
think she must not be let. I hate repeating what 
was said viciously ; and God knows I must not 
talk or think scandal : but Madame de Roche- 
laurier, her own friend and yours, says things 
about her and M. de Saverny ; it is no unkindness 
of my grandmother's. She does not like Clara 
now, but she is clear of all that, quite. And 
there were letters, certainly. Madame de Roche- 
laurier said so ; they were the cleverest she ever 
saw, but not good to write. It was two or three 
years ago ; M. de Saverny let her see them. It 
was base and wretched, and he keeps them. He 
is a detestable man ; but you cannot get over that. 
I believe no harm of her ; only you will not let 



220 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

her take you from us. You must see it would 
be the end of all our pleasure and hope. People 
would laugh too. If you want to stand by C., as 
you say, how can you begin by helping people to 
scandal ? I am so sorry for you, I know you are 
too fond of her and good to her, and would never 
give her up ; and I am not fit to help. Still, 
whatever I am, I do know there must be right and 
wrong somehow in the world. You should not 
make so much misery. I don't mean as to the 
people nearest you both. On your side of course 
I cannot tell you how to look at things ; and as to 
hers I can only be sorry, and am very. But you 
know, after all, my mother is something to you 
while she lives ; you are my very own brother and 
dearest one friend. I wish you might see her. She 
is so full of the tenderest beautiful ways. I know 
what she hears hurts her. She shows little, but 
she cried when our grandmother gave her letters to 
read. You might be so good to us, for we can never 
do anything or be much to you. If evil comes of 
this I shall think we were all born to it. There 
will be no one left to think of or speak to without 
some afterthought or aftertaste of memory and 
shame. The names nearest ours will have stings 
in them to make us wince. It is not good for us 
to try and face the world. It has beaten all that 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 221 

ever took heart to stand up against it. Surely 
there is something just and good in it, whatever 
we think or say, let it look ever so unfair and 
press ever so hard. I write this as well as I can, 
but it is very hard to write. I cannot make way 
any further : my head and hand and eyes ache, 
and the sight of the words written down makes 
me feel sick; the letters seem to get in at my 
eyes and burn behind them. You must be good 
and bear with my letter. 

With all our loves, I remain 

Your affectionate sister, 

A. C. 



222 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XXVII 

REGINALD HARE WOOD TO MRS. RAD WORTH 

London, Jan. igth. 

I WILL wait for you till your own time ; only, my 
dearest, I will not have you wait out of pity or 
fear. All that is done with : my time is here, 
with me ; I have the day by the hand, and hold 
it by the hair. We have counted all and found 
nothing better than love. I do just hope there 
may be something for me to give up or go with- 
out : I see nothing yet. You are so far much 
better to me than all I ever knew of. I sit and 
make your face out between the words, and stop 
writing to look. You ought to have given me 
that broken little turquoise thing you used to 
have hung to your watch. I wonder all men who 
ever saw you do not come to get you away from 
me fight me for you at least ; for I shall never 
let you out of my hands when I have you well in 
them. If one had seen you and let you slip ! 
I knew I should get you some day or die. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 223 

Because I was never the least worth it. Because 
you need not have been so good, when you were 
so beautiful that nothing you did could set you 
off. But you know I loved you ages first. When 
I was a boy, and got sight of you, I knew stupidly 
somehow you were the best thing there was. You 
were very perfect as a child ; I know the clear 
look of your temples under the hair ; and the 
fresh delicious tender girl's hair drawn off and 
made a crown with. I want to know what one 
was to have done without that ? I don't think 
you cared about me a year ago not the least, 
my love that is now. I had to play Palomydes 
to your Iseult a good bit ; but are you ever going 
to be afraid of the old king in Cornwall after this ? 
as if we were not any one's match, and anything 
we please. 

Je serai grand, et toi riche, 

Puisque nous nous aimerons. 

You shall scent me out the music to that 
some day ; the song made of the sound of 
flowers and colour of music : you ought to 
know the notes that go to the other version of 
it. We shall have such a love in our life that 
all the ends of it will be sweet. You will not 
care too much about the people that could be of 
no use to you. Could a brother save you when 



224 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

you wanted saving ? Besides, I have hold of 
you. The whole world has no claim or right in 
it any longer to set against mine. Let those 
come that want you, and see if I let go of you for 
any man. There will not be an inch of time, not 
a corner of our life, without some delicious thing 
in it. Let them tell us what we are to have 
instead if we give each other up. I shall get to 
be worth something to you in time. You say 
now you never found anything yet that had the 
likeness of your mate. I have much more of you 
than all the earth could deserve ; I should like 
to see myself jealous of old fancies in a dead 
dream. That poor child at A. H. writes me 
piteous little letters, in the silliest helpless way, 
about the wrong of this and the right of that ; she 
has been set upon and stung by some poisonous 
tale-bearing or other ; she wants one to forbear 
loving for others' sake, and absolutely cites her 
own poor terrified little repentance after her 
husband's death, on remembering some unborn- 
baby-ghost of a flirtation which she never told 
some innocuous preference which sticks to the 
childish little recollection like a sort of remorse. 
It is pitiable enough, but too laughable as well ; 
for on the strength of it she falls at once to quoting 
vicious phrases and transcribing mere bat-like 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 225 

infamies and stupidities of the owl-eyed prurient 
sort, the base bitter talk of women without even 
such a soul as serves for salt to the carrion of 
their mind. We know where such promptings 
start from. What is it to me, if I am to be the 
man fit to match with you by the right of my 
delight in you, that you have tried to find help 
or love before we came together, and failed of it ? 
Let them show me letters to disprove that I love 
you. and I will read them. Till they do that I 
mean to hold to you, and make you hold to me. 
I thought there had been more in her than one 
sees ; but she has a pliable, soft sort of mind, not 
unlike her over-tender, cased-up, exotic sort of 
beauty. I don't want women to carry the sign- 
mark of them all over, even to the hair. Hers 
always looks sensitive hair, and has changes of 
colour in it. A woman should keep to the deep 
sweet dark, with such a noble silence of colour 
in the depth of it rich reserved hair, with a 
shadow and a sense of its own, that wants no 
gilt setting of sunbeams to throw out the secret 
beauty in it. I should like to see yours painted ; 
that would beat the best of them. Promise I 
shall have sight of it again soon. I want you as 
a beggar wants bread to eat ; I have the sort of 
desire after your face that wounded men must 

Q 



226 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

have after water. I wish there were some mark 
of you carved on me that I might look at. Now 
this is come to me, I wonder all day long at all 
the world. Nobody else has this ; but they live in 
a sort of way. I do think, at times, that last year 
my poor little plaything of a sister and your 
brother were almost ready to believe they knew 
what it was as you hear children say. They 
had the look and behaviour of a girl and boy 
playing themselves into belief in their play. And 
all the while we have drawn the lot and can turn 
the prize over, toss and catch it in our hands. 
All little loves are such poor food to keep alive 
on : our great desire and delight infinite faith 
and truth and pleasure will last our lives out 
without running short. You know who says 
there are only three things any lover has to say : 
Je t'aime ; aime-moi ; merci. I say the last over 
for ever when I fall to writing. I thank you 
always with all my heart and might, my darling, 
for being so perfect to me. We will go to France. 
There will be money. Write me word when you 
will. And I love you. We will have a good fight 
with the world if it comes in our way. Let us 
have the courage of our love, knowing it for the 
best thing there is. There is so little, after all 
has been thought of, either to brave or to resign. 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 227 

I shall make you wear your hair the way we like. 
Your sort of walk and motion and way of sitting 
has just made me think of the doves at Venice 
settling in the square, as we shall see them before 
summer. There is a head like you in San Zani- 
polo ; a portrait head in the right corner of a 
picture of the Virgin crowned : we shall see that. 
Only it has thick curled gold hair, like my sister's. 
You had that hair when you sat to Carpaccio ; 
you have had time to grow perfecter in since. I 
can smell the sweetness of the sea when I think 
of our journey. I like signing my name, now it 
has to do with you. My name is a chattel of 
yours, and yours a treasure of mine. Let it be 
before spring ; and love me as well as you can. 

REGINALD EDW. HAREWOOD. 



Q2 



228 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XXVIII 

LADY MIDHURST TO MRS. RADWORTH 

Ashton Hildred, Jan. 3Oth. 

MY DEAR CLARA : 

I HAVE not yet made up my mind whether or no 
you will be taken at unawares by the news I have 
to send you. You must make up yours to accept 
it with fortitude. Amy has just enriched the 
nation, and impoverished your brother, by the 
production of a child male. In spite of her 
long depression and illness, it is a very sufficient 
infant, admirable in all their eyes here. Frank, 
I am sure, expected to hear of this in time. While 
there was any doubt as to the child's (I mean 
Amy's, and should say the mother's) state of 
health, we could not resolve on publishing the 
prospect of her confinement. I may all but say 
it was a game of counter-chances. That it has 
come to no bad end you will, I am sure, be as glad 
as we are. Eight months of mourning were 
enough to make one thoroughly anxious. The 
boy does us as much credit as anything so fat 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 229 

and foolish, so red and ridiculous, as a new baby 
in good health can do. I suppose we shall be 
inundated with troubles because of this totally 
idiotic fragment of flesh and fluff, which my 
daughter has the front and face to assert 
resembles its father's family such is the instant 
fruit of sudden promotion to grandmotherhood. 
And I am a great-grandmother ; and not sixty- 
two till the month after next. Armande will 
never allow me my rank as junior again ; yet I 
recollect her grown-up patronage of your father 
and me when we were barely past school age, and 
she barely out la dame aux belles cousines I 
called her, and him le petit Jean de what is it ? 
Saintre ? I suppose my son-in-law will be 
guardian. I do hope nobody will feel upset at 
this our dear Frank is too good a knight to 
grudge the baby its birth. Poor little soft 
animal, one could wish for all our sakes some of 
its belongings off the small shoulder of it ; but as 
it has chosen to come, they must stick to it. Amy 
is in a noticeable flutter of impatience to get the 
christening of it well over ; she has high views of 
the matter, picked up of late in some religious 
quarter. Edmund Reginald we mean to have it 
made into, and I must have Redgie Harewood to 
come and vow things for it he will make an 



230 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

admirable surety for another boy's behaviour ; 
and the name will do very well to be washed 
under unless, indeed, Frank would be chivalrous 
enough to halve the charge ; then we might 
bracket his name with the poor father's. Don't 
ask him if you think he would rather keep off ; 
we don't want felicitation, only forgiveness : that 
we must have. If I had not been tricked and 
caught in the springe of a sudden promise to take 
the weighty spiritual office on myself, I should 
implore you to be godmother. As it is, I suppose 
the sins and the sermons must all come under 
my care. Break the news as softly as you can ; 
there must always be something abrupt, question- 
able, vexatious, in a business of the sort. It is 
hard to have to oust one's friends and shift one's 
point of view at a week's notice. However, here 
the child is, and we must set about the manage- 
ment of it. I shall make Frederick undertake 
the main work at once as guardian and grand- 
father. He writes to Lidcombe by this post. 
Amy is already better than she has been for 
months, and very little pulled down, in spite of 
a complete surprise. She makes a delicious 
double to her baby, lying in a tumbled tortuous 
nest or net of hair with golden linings, with tired 
relieved eyes and a face that flashes and subsides 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 231 

every five minutes with a weary pleasure she 
glitters and undulates at every sight of the child 
as if it were the sun and she water in the light of 
it. You see how lyrical one may become at an 
age when one's grandchildren have babies. I 
should have thought her the kind of woman to 
cry a fair amount of tears at such a time, but 
happily she refrains from that ceremonial diver- 
sion. She is the image of that quivering rest 
which follows on long impassive trouble, and the 
labour of days without deeds quiet, full of life, 
eager and at ease. I imagine she has no memory 
or feeling left her from the days that were before 
yesterday. She and the baby were born at one 
birth, and know each as much as the other of 
the people and things that went on before that. 

Get your husband to take a human view of 
the matter I suppose his ideas of a baby which 
is neither zoophyte nor fossil are rather of the 
vaporous and twilight order of thought and 
bring him down for the christianizing part of the 
show, if he will condescend so far. He could 
take a note or two on the process of animal 
development by stages, and the decidedly misty 
origin of that comic species to which our fat 
present sample of fleshly goods may belong. 

About Reginald : I may as well now say, once 



232 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

for all, that I think I can promise to relieve you 
for good of any annoyance in that quarter. We 
must both of us by this time be really glad of any 
excuse to knock his folly about you on the head. 
Here is my plan of action, to be played out if 
necessary ; if you have a better, please let me 
know of it in time, before I shuffle and deal ; you 
see I show you my hand in the most perfectly 
frank way. That dear good Armande, who really 
has an exquisite comprehension of us all and our 
small difficulties, has got (Heaven I hope knows 
how, but I need hardly say I don't) a set of old 
letters out of the hands of the semillant and 
seductive M. de Saverny^/s, and put them into 
mine, where you cannot doubt they are in much 
better keeping. Octave is not exactly the typical 
braggart, but there is a dash in him of that fearful 
man in Madame Bovary the first lover, I mean ; 
varnished of course, and well kept down, but the 
little grain of that base nature does leaven and 
flavour the whole man. He will never have, 
never so much as understand, the splendid 
courtesy and noble reticence of a past age. His 
father had twice his pretensions and less than 
half his pretension ; and so it will be with all the 
race. Knowing as you do now that the papers 
exist, you must feel reasonably glad to be well out 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 233 

of his hands. Not, of course, my dear niece, 
that I could for one second conceive you have 
what people would call any reason to be glad 
of such a thing, or that I would, in the remotest 
way, insinuate that there was even so much as 
seeming indiscretion on one side. But when you 
permitted Octave to open up on that tack, you 
were not old or stupid enough to see, what duller 
eyes could hardly have missed of, the use your 
innocence might be put to a thing, to me, 
touching and terrible to think of. Cleverness, 
like goodness, makes the young less quick to 
apprehend wrong or anticipate misconstruction 
than stupid old people are. In this case my 
heavy-headed experience might have been a 
match for your rapid bright sense. I have 
hardly looked at your correspondence ; had not 
other eyes been there before mine, nothing, of 
course, could induce me to look now ; but I know 
Madame de Rochelaurier well enough to be sure 
she has not skipped a word. I must look over 
my hand, you see, as it is. It was hard enough to 
get them from her at all, as you may imagine ; 
I hardly know myself how I did get it done ; mais 
on a ses moyens. What I have seen, in the mean- 
time, is quite enough to show me that one of 
these letters would fall like a flake of thawed ice 



234 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

on the most feverish of a boy's rhapsodies. With 
the least of these small ink-and-paper pills, I will 
undertake to clear your suitor's head at once, and 
bring him to a sane and sound view of actual 
things. I know what boys want. They will 
bear with any imaginable antecedent except one 
which makes their own grand passion look like a 
pale late proof taken off at a second or third 
impression. All the proofs before letters you left 
in Octave's hands long ago your sentiment 
(excuse, but this *s the way he will take it) has 
come down now to the common print. Show 
him what the old friend really was to you, and he 
will congeal at once. I don't imagine you ever 
meant actually to let him thaw and distil into a 
tender dew of fine feeling at your feet ; you would 
no doubt always have checked him in time if 
he would always have let you. But then, upon 
the whole, it is as well to have a weapon at hand. 
I believe he has grown all but frantic of late, and 
has wild notions of the future amusing to you 
no doubt while they last, but not good to allow 
of. Now, I should not like to lay the Saverny 
letters before him, and refrigerate his ideas by 
that process ; one had rather dispense with it 
while one can ; but sooner than let his derange- 
ment grow to confirmed mania and become the 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 235 

practical ruin of him, I must use my medicines. 
I know, after he had taken them, he would be 
sensible again, and give up his dream of laws 
broken and lives united. Still, I had rather 
suppress and swamp altogether the Saverny- 
Rochelaurier episode, and all that hangs on to 
it rather escape being mixed up in the matter 
at all, if I can. There is a better way, supposing 
you like to take it. Something you will see must 
be done ; suppose you do this. Write a quiet 
word to Reginald, in a way to put an end to all 
this folly for good. Say he must leave off writing ; 
we know (thanks to your own excellent feeling 
and sense) that he does write. Lay it on your 
husband, if you like but make it credible. 
Leave no room for appeal. Put it in this way, 
suppose, as you could do far better than I can 
for you. That an intimacy cannot last which 
cannot exist without exciting unpleasant, un- 
friendly remark. That you have no right, no 
reason, and no wish to be offered up in the 
Iphigenia manner for the sake of arousing the 
adverse winds of rumour and scandal to the 
amusement of a matronly public. That you are 
sorry to desillusionner even " a fool of his folly," 
and regret any vexation you may give, but do not 
admit (I would just intimate this much, as I am 



236 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

sure you can so well afford to do) that he ever 
had reason for his unreason. That, in a word, for 
your sake and his and other people's, you must 
pass for the present from intimates into strangers, 
and may hope, if both please, to lapse again in 
course of time from strangers into friends. I 
think this will do for the ground-plan add any 
intimation or decoration you like, I for one will 
never find or indicate a fault. Only be unanswer- 
able, leave no chance of room for resistance or 
reply, shut him up, as you say, at once on any 
plea, and I will accept your point of action and 
act after it he need never, and never shall, be 
made wiser on the subject than you please. The 
old letters shall never have another chance of air 
or light. If you don't like writing to silence him, 
I can but use them faute de mieux for, of course, 
the boy must be brought up short ; but I think 
my way is the better and more graceful. Do 
not you ? 

It is a pity that in putting a stop, to folly we 
must make an end of pleasant intercourse and the 
friendly daily habits of intimate acquaintance. I 
can quite imagine and appreciate the sort of 
regret with which one resigns oneself to any such 
rupture. For my part it is simply the canon of 
our Church about men's grandmothers which 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 237 

keeps me safe on Platonic terms with our friend. 
Some day I shall console and revenge myself by 
writing a novel fit to beat M. Feydeau out of the 
field on that tender topic. Figure to your- 
self the exquisite effects that might so well be 
made. The grandmother might at last see my 
hero's ardour cooling after a bright brief interval 
of birdlike pleasure and butterfly love volupte 
supreme et touchante ou les rides se fondent sous 
les baisers et les lois s'effacent sous les larmes 
all that style ; and when compelled to unclasp 
her too tender arms from the neck of her jeune 
premier, the venerable lady might sadly and 
resignedly pass him on, shall we suppose to his 
aunt ? A pathetic intrigue might be worked out, 
by which she would (without loving him) seduce 
her son-in-law so as to leave the coast clear for 
the grandson who had forsaken her, and with a 
heart wrung to the core by self-devoted love 
prepare her daughter's mind to accept a nephew's 
homage : finally see the young people made 
happy in each other and an assenting uncle, and 
take arsenic, or, at sight of her work completed, 
die of a cerebral congestion (one could make more 
surgery out of that), invoking on the heads of 
child and grandchild a supreme benediction, 
baptized in the sacred tears which drop on 



238 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

the grave] of her own love. Upon my word 
I think it an idea which might bear splendid 
fruit in the hands of a great realistic novelist. 
I see my natural profession now, but I fear too 
late. 

In good earnest I am sorry this must be the 
end. A year ago I was too glad to enlist your 
kindness on Reginald's behalf ; and I can see 
how that kindness led you in time to put up with 
his folly. I am sure I can but feel the more 
tenderly and thankfully towards you if indeed 
you have ever come to regret for a moment that 
things were as they are. I have no right to 
reproach, and no heart : no one has the right ; 
no one should have the heart. You know my 
lifelong abhorrence of the rampant Briton, 
female or male ; and my perfect disbelief in the 
peculiar virtue of the English hearth and home. 
There is no safeguard against the natural sense of 
liking. But the time to count up and pay down 
comes for us all ; we have no pleasures of our 
own ; we hold no comforts but on sufferance. 
Things are constant only to division and decline. 
The quiet end of a friendship I have at times 
thought sadder than the stormiest end of a love- 
match. Chi sa ? But I do know which I had 
rather keep by me while I can. It is a pity you 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 239 

two poor children are not to be given more play, 
or to see much more of each other. He will miss 
his friend, her sense and grace and wit, the 
exquisite companionship of her, when he has 
done with the fooleries of sentiment. You, I 
must rather hope for his sake, may miss the sight 
of him for a time, the ardent ways and eager 
faiths and fancies, all the freshness and colour 
and fervour of his time and temperament ; 
perhaps even a little the face and eyes and hair ; 
ce sont la des choses qui ne gatent jamais rien ; 
we never know when we begin or cease to care for 
such things. I too have had everything hand- 
some about me, and I have had losses. You see, 
my dear, the flowers (and weeds) will grow over 
all this in good time. One thing and one time 
we may be quite sure of seeing the day when 
we shall have well forgotten everything. It is 
not uncomfortable, as one gets old, to recollect 
that we shall not always remember. The years 
will do without us ; and we are not fit to keep 
the counsel of the Fates. In good time we shall 
be out of the way of things, and have nothing in 
all the world to desire or deplore. When recollec- 
tion makes us sorry, we can remember that we 
shall forget. I never did much harm, or good 
perhaps, in my life ; so at least I think and hope ; 



240 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

but I should be sorry to suppose I had to live 
for ever in sight of the memory of it. Few could 
rationally like to face that likelihood if they 
once realized it. There is no fear ; for a time is 
sure to come which will have to take no care of 
the best of us, as our time has to take none of 
plenty who were better. I showed you, now 
some eighteen months since, when it first appeared, 
I think, that most charming song of " Love and 
Age," the one bit of verse that I have liked well 
enough for years to dream even of crying over ; 
the sweetest, noblest piece of simple sense and 
manly music, to my poor thinking, that this age 
of turbulent metrical machinery has ever turned 
out ; and it, by the by, hardly belongs to you. 
Your people have not the secret of such clear 
pure language, such plain pellucid words and 
justice of feeling. Since my first reading of it, 
the cadences that open and close it come back 
perpetually into my ears like the wash of water 
on shingle up and down, when I think of times 
gone or coming. I never coveted a verse till I 
read that in " Gryll Grange " ; there is in it such 
an exquisite absence of the wrong thing and 
presence of the right thing throughout just 
enough words for the thought and just enough 
thought for the matter ; a wise, sweet, strong 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 241 

piece of work. We shall leave the years to come 
nothing much better than that. What is said 
there about love and time and all the rest of it 
is the essence, incomparably well distilled, of all 
that we can reasonably want or mean to say. 
We must let things pass ; when their time is 
come for going, or when if they stay they can but 
turn to poison, we must help them to be gone. 
And then we had best forget. 

It is a dull, empty end ; a blank upshot ; but 
you know what good authority we have for 
saying there are no such things as catastrophes. 
I admit it is rather a case of girl's head and fish's 
tail ; but you must see how deep and acute that 
eye of Balzac's was for such things. His broad 
maxims are the firmest-footed and least likely to 
slip of any great thinker's I know ; they have 
such tough root and tight hold on facts. As to 
our year's work and wages, we may all say truly 
enough, Le denoument c'est qu'il n'y a pas de 
denoument. I prophesied that last year, when 
there first seemed to be a likelihood of some 
domestic romance getting under way. The point 
of such things, as I told Amy, is just that they 
come to nothing. There were very pretty 
scandalous materials ; the making of an excel- 
lent roman de mceurs intime et tant soit peu 

R 



242 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

scabreux. Amy and your brother, you doubtless 
remember, gave symptoms of being touched, 
as flirting warmed to feeling ; they had begun 
playing the game of cousins with an over-liberal 
allowance of sentiment. Redgie again was mad 
to upset conventions and vindicate his right of 
worshipping you ; had no idea, for his part, of 
keeping on the sunny side of elopement. Joli 
menage ! one might have said at first sight 
knowing this much, and not knowing what 
Englishwomen are here well known to be. And 
here we are at the last chapter with no harm 
done as yet. You end as model wife, she as 
model mother ; you wind up your part with a 
suitor to dismiss, she hers with a baby to bring 
up. All is just as it was, as far as we all go ; the 
one difference, lamentable enough as it is, between 
this and last year is the simple doing of chance, 
and quite outside of any doing of ours. But for 
poor Edmund's accidental death, which I am 
fatalist enough to presume must have happened 
anyhow, we should all be just where we were. 
Not an event in the whole course of things ; not, 
I think, so much as an incident ; very meagre 
stuff for a French workman to be satisfied with. 
We must be content never to make a story, and 
may instead reflect with pride what a far better 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 243 

thing it is to live in the light of English feeling 
and under the rule of English habit. 

You will give Frank my best love and excuses 
in the name of us all. He must write to me 
before too long. For yourself, accept this as I 
mean it ; act as you like or think wise, and 
believe me at all times 

Your most affectionate aunt, 

HELENA MIDHURST. 



R 2 



244 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XXIX I I 

FRANCIS CHEYNE TO LADY MIDHURST 

Lidcombe, Feb. I5th. 

MY DEAR AUNT HELENA : 

I SHALL be clear of this place tomorrow ; I am 
going for a fortnight or so to Blocksham. I 
quite agree it will be best for me not to have the 
pleasure of seeing Amicia. You will, I hope, tell 
her how thoroughly and truly glad I am ; and 
that if I could have known earlier how things 
were to turn out it would have simply saved me 
some unpleasant time. As to meeting, when it 
can be pleasant to her, I shall be very grateful 
for leave to come and till then it is quite good 
enough to hear of her doing well again. Only 
one thing could add to my perfectly sincere 
pleasure at this change to know I had been 
albe to bring it about by my own will and deed ; 
as I would have done long since. I hope she 
will get all right again, and the sooner for being 
back here. I shall not pretend to suppose you 
don't know now that I care more about her and 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 245 

what happens to her than about most things in 
the world. If all goes well with her nothing will 
go far wrong with me while I live. I dare say 
I shall do well enough for the professions yet, 
when I fall to and try a turn with them ; and I 
cannot say, honestly, how thankful I am to be 
well rid of a name and place that I never could 
have been glad of. 

We have more to thank you for than your 
kindness as to this. I have seen my sister since 
you wrote, and she has shown me some part of 
your letter. I do not think we shall have any 
more trouble at home. My brother-in-law knows 
nothing of it. She has written I believe to 
Reginald ; I must say she was angry enough, but 
insists on no notice. If she were ever to find 
home all but too comfortless to put up with, I 
could not well wonder ; she has little there to 
look to or lean upon. We are out of the fighting 
times, but if M. de Saverny or any other man 
living were to try and make base use of her 
kindness and innocence, I suppose no one could 
well blame or laugh at me if I exacted atonement 
from him. As it is, I declare if he comes in her 
way, and I find he has not kept entire silence as 
to the letters written when she was too young 
and too good to dream what baseness and 



246 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

stupidity there is among people, I will prevent 
him from going about and holding up his head 
again as a man of honour. Any one from this 
time forth who gives her any trouble by writing 
or by word of mouth shall at once answer to me 
for it. I have no right to say that I believe or 
do not believe she has never felt a regret or a 
wish. She is answerable to no man for that. I 
do say she has given nobody reason to think of 
her, or a right to speak of her, except with all 
honour and if necessary I wish people to know 
I intend to stand by what I say. 

She is quite content, and I believe deter- 
mined, to see no more of R. H. for some time ; 
quite ready too to allow that accident and a 
time of trouble let him perhaps too much into 
the secret of an uncongenial household life, and 
that she was over ready to look for companion- 
ship where it was hardly wise to look for it. 
Few men (as she says) at his age could have had 
the sense or chivalrous feeling to understand all 
and presume upon nothing. She said it simply, 
but in a way to make any one ashamed of mis- 
taking for an instant such a quiet noble nature 
as she has. I have only now to thank you for 
helping us both to get quit of the matter without 
trouble or dispute. I should be ashamed to 






A YEAR'S LETTERS 247 

thank you for doing my sister the simple justice 
not to misconstrue her share in it. If there ever 
was any evil-speaking, I hope and suppose it is 
now broken up for good. For the rest, I have 
agreed to leave it at present in your hands and 
hers but if ever she wants help or defence, I 
shall, of course, be on the outlook to give it. I 
have only to add messages from us both, and 
remain, my dear aunt, 

Your affectionate nephew, 

FR. CHEYNE. 



248 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 



XXX 

LADY MIDHURST TO LADY CHEYNE 

Lidcombe, Feb. 25th. 

MY DEAR CHILD : 

FIRST salute the fellow-baby in my name, and 
then you shall have news. I assume that is 
done, and will begin. Two days here with your 
father have put me up to the work there is to do. 
I shall not take you into council as to estate 
affairs, madame la baronne. When the heir is 
come to ripe boyhood you may take things in 
hand for yourself. Meantime we shall keep you 
both in tutelage, and grow fat on privy pecula- 
tion ; so that if you find no holes in the big 
Lidcombe cheese when you cut it, it will not be 
the fault of our teeth. So much for you and 
your bald imp ; but you want news, I suppose, of 
friends. I called at Blocksham, and saw the 
Radworths in the flesh that is, in the bones and 
cosmetics ; for the male is gone to bone, and the 
female to paint. The poor man calls aloud for 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 249 

an embalmer : the poor woman cries pitifully for 
an enameller. They get on well enough again 
by this time, I believe. To use her own style, 
she is dead beat, and quite safe ; viciously resigned. 
I think we may look for peace. She would have 
me racked if she could, no doubt, but received 
me smiling from the tips of her teeth outwards, 
and with a soft dry pressure of the fingers. Not 
a hint of anything kept back. Evidently, too, 
she holds her brother well in leash. Frank 
pleased me : he was courteous, quiet, without 
any sort of affectation, dissembled or displayed. 
I gave him sufficient accounts, and he was 
grateful ; could not have taken the position and 
played a rather hard part more gracefully than 
he did. We said little, and came away with all 
good speed. The house is a grievous sort of 
place now, and likely to stay so. I have no doubt 
she will set all her wits to work and punish him 
for her failure. She will hardly get up a serious 
affair again, or it might be a charity to throw 
her some small animal by way of lighter food. 
It would not surprise me if she fell to philan- 
thropic labour, or took some devotional drug by 
way of stimulant. The bureau d" amourettes is a 
bankrupt concern, you see : her sensation-shop is 



250 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

closed for good. I prophesy she will turn a 
decent worrying wife of the simpler Anglican 
breed ; home-keeping, sharp-edged, earnestly 
petty and drily energetic. Negro-worship now, 
or foreign missions, will be about her mark ; 
perhaps too a dash and sprinkle of religious 
feeling, with the chill just off ; with a mild pinch 
of the old Platonic mixture now and then to 
flavour and leaven her dead lump of life : I can 
imagine her stages well enough for the next 
dozen or score of years. Pity she had not more 
stock in hand to start with. 

I have been at Plessey too ; one could not be 
content with seeing half a result. Captain H. 
was more gracious to me than you would believe. 
I suspect the man has wit enough to see that 
but for my poor offices his boy would be now off 
Heaven knows whither, and stuck up to the ears 
in such a mess as nothing could ever have scraped 
him thoroughly clean of. He and Redgie are at 
last on the terms of an armed peace very 
explosive terms, you know ; but decent while 
they last, and preferable to a tooth-and-nail 
system. I will say I behaved admirably to him ; 
asked what plans he had for our boy what he 
thought the right way to take with him assented 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 251 

and consented, and suggested and submitted ; 
altogether, made myself a model. It is a fact 
that at this day he thinks Redgie might yet be, 
in time, bent and twisted and melted down into 
the Church mould of man cut close to the fit 
of a surplice. Now I truly respect and enjoy a 
finished sample of clergy ; no trade makes better 
company ; I have known them a sort of cross 
between artist and diplomate which is charming. 
Then they have always about them a suppressed 
sense of something behind some hint of pro- 
fessional reserve which does not really change 
them, but does colour them ; something which 
fails of being a check on their style, but is 
exquisitely serviceable as a sauce to it. A cleric 
who is also a man of this world, and has nothing 
of the cross-bone type, is as perfect company as 
you can get or want. But conceive Redgie at 
any imaginably remote date coming up recast in 
that state out of the crucible of time ! I kept a 
bland face though, and hardly sighed a soft semi- 
dissent. At least, I said we might turn him to 
something good yet ; that I did hope and think. 
The fatherly nerve was touched ; he warmed to 
me expressively. I am sure now the poor man 
thought he had been too hard on me all these 



252 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

years in his private mind, put bitter construc- 
tions on very innocent conduct of mine had 
something, after all, to atone for on his side. He 
grew quite softly confidential and responsive 
before our talk was out. Ah, my dear, if you 
could see what odd, tumbled, shapeless recollec- 
tions it brought up, to find myself friendly with 
him and exchanging wishes and hopes of mine 
against his, in all sympathy and reliance ! I 
have not earned a stranger sensation for years. 
Ages ago, before any of your set were born, 
before he married your mother : when he was 
quite young, poor, excitable, stupid, and plea- 
sant infinite ages ago, when the country and I 
were in our thirties and he in his twenties, we 
used to talk in that way. I felt ready to turn 
and look round for things I had missed since I 
was six years old. I should hardly have been 
taken aback if my brothers had come in and we 
had set to playing together like babies. To be 
face to face with such a dead and buried bit of 
life as that was so quaint that stranger things 
even would have fallen flat after it. However, 
there was no hoisting of sentimental colours on 
either side : though I suppose no story ever had 
a stranger end to it than ours. To this day I 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 253 

don't know why I made him or let him marry 
your mother. 

I told him I must see Redgie and take him in 
hand by private word of mouth. He was quite 
nice about it, and left the boy to me, smiling 
even as he turned us' over to each other ; more 
benign than he ever was when I came over to see 
Redgie in his schooldays : a time that seemed 
farther off now than the years before his birth. 
I can't tell you how odd it was to be thrown 
back into '52 without warning worse than the 
proverbial middle of next week. I will say for 
Redgie he was duly ashamed, and never looked 
sillier in his boyish time than when I took him to 
task. Clara, I told him, had, as far as I knew, 
behaved excellently ; but I wanted to have facts. 
Dismissal was legible on him all over ; but the 
how I was bent on making out. So in time I got 
to some fair guess at the manner of her final 
stroke. It was sharp and direct. She wrote 
not exactly after my dictation (which I never 
thought she need do, or would), but simply in 
the resolute sacrificial style. She forbade him to 
answer ; refused to read him, or reply if she read ; 
would never see him till all had blown over for 
good. It seems she could not well deny that not 



254 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

long since he might have carried her off her 
feet which feet she had now happily regained. 
Heaven knows, my dear child, what she could 
or could not deny if she chose : I confess I cannot 
yet make up my mind whether or no she ever 
had an idea of decamping, and divorcing with all 
ties : it is not like her ; but who can be sure ? 
She has none now. Honestly, I do suspect that 
a personal bias of liking did at times get mixed 
up with her sentimental spirit of intrigue ; and 
that she would have done things for Redgie 
which a fellow ten years older or a thought less 
handsome would never have made her think of : 
in effect, that she was in love with him. She is 
quite capable of being upset by simple beauty 
if ever she were to have a real lover now, I 
believe he would be a fool and very nice-featured. 
It is the supreme Platonic retribution the 
Nemesis of sentimental talent, which always 
clutches such runners as she is before they turn 
the post. There was a small grain of not dubious 
pathos in her letter : she was fond enough of him 
to regret what she did not quite care to fight for. 
What she told him I don't know, nor how she 
put it : I can guess, though. She has done for 
his first love, at any rate. He knows he was a 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 255 

fool, and I did not press for his opinion of her. 
One may suppose she put him upon honour, and 
made the best of herself. I should guess, too, 
that she gave hints of what he might do in the 
way of annoyance if he were not ready to forgive 
and make friends at a distance. That you see 
would prick him on the chivalrous side, and he 
would obey and hold his tongue and hand at 
once as he has done. Anyhow, the thing is 
well killed and put under ground, with no fear 
of grave-stealers ; there is not even bone enough 
left of it to serve the purpose of a moral dissec- 
tion. The chief mourner (if he did but know it) 
should be Ernest Rad worth. I could cry over 
that wretchedest of husbands and students when 
I think of the thorns in his pillow, halters in 
his pew, and ratsbane in his porridge, which a 
constant wife will now have to spend her time in 
getting ready. 

Redgie was very fair about her ; would have 
no abuse and no explanation. " You see," he 
said, " she tells me what she chooses to tell, and 
that one is bound to take ; but I have no sort of 
business now to begin peeping and snuffing at 
anything beyond. I thought once, you know, 
we both had a right to ask or answer ; that was 



256 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

when she seemed to care about it. One can't be 
such a blackguard as to try and take it out of 
her for changing her mind. She was quite right 
to think twice and do as she chose ; and the best 
1 can do now is to keep off and not get in her 
way." Of course the boy talks as if the old 
tender terms between them had been broken off 
for centuries, and their eyes were now meeting 
across a bottomless pit of change. I shall not 
say another word on the matter : all is as straight 
and right as it need be, though I know that only 
last month he was writing her the most insane 
letters. These, one may hope, she will think fit 
to burn. To him I believe she had the sense 
never to write at any length or to any purpose 
but twice, this last time being one. And so our 
little bit of comedy slips off the stage without 
noise, and the curtain laps down over it. Lucky 
it never turned to the tearful style, as it once 
threatened to do. 

I need not say that Redgie does not expect 
to love seriously again. Not that he says it ; he 
has just enough sense of humour to keep the 
assertion down ; but evidently he thinks it. 
Some one has put a notion into the Captain's 
head about Philomene de Rochelaurier Clara 
herself, perhaps, for aught I know ; she is quite 



A YEAR'S LETTERS 257 

ingenious enough to have tried that touch while 
the real play was still in rehearsal. Nothing 
will come of that, though ; I shall simply re- 
conquer the boy, and hold him in hand till I 
find a woman fit to have charge of him. I hope 
he will turn to some good, seriously. Some of 
his friends are not bad friends for him : I like 
that young Audley well enough, and he seems to 
believe in Redgie at a quite irrational rate. Per- 
haps I do too. He must take his way, or make 
it ; and we shall see. 

As to the marriage matter, I have thought 
lately that Armande might be given her own way 
and Frank married to the girl if they are all 
of one mind about it. It sounds rather Louis 
Quinze to bdcler a match in this fashion, but I 
don't see why it should not come to good. He 
may as well marry now as later. I don't at all 
know what he will make in the professional line ; 
and he can hardly throw over all thoughts of it. 
I did think of proposing he should be at the 
head of the estates for a time, in the capacity of 
chief manager and overlooker ; but there were 
rubs in the way of that plan. It is a nice post, 
and might be made a nice sinecure or demi- 
cure, with efficient business people under and 

s 



258 LOVE'S CROSS-CURRENTS 

about one; not bad work for a cadet de famille, 
and has been taken on like terms before now. 
We owe him something ; however, we may look 
for time to pay it. I will confess to you that if 
the child had been a girl I meant to have brought 
you together at some future day. You must 
forgive me ; for the heir's marrying the dowager 
would have made our friends open their eyes 
and lips a little ; and things are much better as 
they are. 



PRINTED BY 

SPOTTISWOCDE AND CO. LTD., NEW-STREET SQUARE 
LONDON 



Swinburne, Algernon Charles 
5510 Love's cross-currents 
L6 

1905 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY